Pharyngula

Kevin Smith is too fat for the sky

i-1f037dc4051259e55a2aadb09c3bf4bb-kevin-smith.jpeg

Kevin Smith, the writer and raconteur, was recently booted from a plane for being too fat. He’s a big guy, but not so big he doesn’t fit in an airplane seat — so this looks like some weird, nasty, rude policy being pushed by Southwest Airlines. It’s an injustice, but it’s also hilarious, because Kevin Smith is the kind of guy who can turn it into a 1½ hour rant.

It’s also amusing because Smith has 1½ million followers on Twitter, and he tweeted the whole escapade. He has far more followers than Southwest Airlines, and while maybe they’re trying to say their side of the story on the airline’s blog, Smith’s readers have melted their blog down.

It was a wonderfully awful PR move. You do not cross Kevin Smith, or he’ll turn you into a story in a long monologue.


I’m rather disappointed in some of the comments here. All the whining about “I don’t want to sit next to a fat person” is deplorable — look at yourselves. Are you perfect?

I do a lot of flying, and I’ve had to sit next to a few very large people who are much larger than Kevin Smith. It was a far more pleasant experience than sitting next to a) the chain smoker who reeked of cigarettes and was jittering the whole time, b) the drunk guy who hadn’t bathed in a few days, c) the couple with the baby who cried the whole flight, d) the little old lady who had to get up every 10 minutes to use the bathroom, e) the evangelical who tried to witness to me, or f) the young lady who was chronically airsick.

When you get on an airplane, you are voluntarily joining a cross-section of humanity who will be packed as tightly as the airline can squeeze you into the flying tin can. You will discover that people are diverse. Sometimes they will annoy you, and sometimes you will annoy them. Get used to it. Learn to be tolerant with the expectation that others will tolerate you.

The bottom line for me is that Kevin Smith was healthy, mobile, and fit (perhaps tightly) into the narrow volume of space allotted him. He did not require special assistance, did not demand special privileges, and was accommodating to his neighbors. He should have been allowed to fly, but was selectively discriminated against.

Weight was just an excuse.

Comments

  1. #1 Carlie
    February 14, 2010

    And before anyone starts to complain about the comfort of his seatmate or other seating issues, he said that he was in the seat, belted in without a belt extender, and with both of the armrests fully down and fitting just fine, then the pilot took one look at him and had him kicked off.

  2. #2 recovering catholic
    February 14, 2010

    Carlie–you anticipated me!
    Still, you haven’t experienced a certain type of hell until you’ve been in the middle seat between two plus-sized strangers whose buttocks overflow into your own seat on a three-hour flight. That’s just not right, though I’m not sure what can be done about these situations.

  3. #3 RamziD
    February 14, 2010

    I didn’t read the blog so I’m not commenting on Kevin Smith’s case here. However, if you’re big enough that you significantly spill over into the next airplane seat, you should be forced to pay for those two seats. It’s not fair to make the person next to you extremely uncomfortable. This happened to me recently on a 2+ hour flight and I was too nice to say anything about it to anyone, but it still left me very angry.

  4. #4 jeff
    February 14, 2010

    True, Ramzi. I had the same experience where I had to sit under the breast of a very large man for 4 hours recently. It was very difficult for me, and I certainly feel that I paid the same as everyone else for a seat–and just didn’t get one. This is difficult, as many things are. Good for the airline for dealing with it prior to boarding, when passengers are not allowed to say anything.

  5. #5 Carlie
    February 14, 2010

    recovering catholic – I think the first step is to treat large people like human beings rather than a nasty unpleasant problem, which unfortunately isn’t the trend these days. There are a lot of potential solutions: the most equitable and obvious, of course, is to increase the spacing on seats. This helps everyone, as it’s not just fat people who cause squooshing problems for others: overly tall people end up having to extend their legs into the next seat’s floor space, people with babies need extra moving space, toddlers WILL kick the back of your seat or fling their arms and toys into your space, there’s always someone who reclines their seat all the way back into your lap for the entire flight, a lot of men seem to suffer from what has been called enormous phantom schlong syndrome and spread their legs in both directions into the seat area on either side of them. Since airlines will absolutely not change the seating, though, there are other ways to potentially cope with the issue: pay more attention to who wants to be seated together (I don’t mind being squished if it’s by someone I know and like), allow people on the plane more latitude to move around and switch seats to be more comfortable, etc.
    The “charge them for two seats” business doesn’t really work, because all ways I’ve seen it suggested or instituted so far penalizes only one of those groups of people who take up more space than the 17 1/2 inches allowed. It also on average affects women more than men, as women tend to be bigger in the hip while men are bigger higher up in the abdomen (affecting whether the arm rests can go down or not), so even if you did want to target just fat people it would be unfairly biased.

  6. #6 Rorschach
    February 14, 2010

    Kindof beats the purpose of 10 kg hand luggage limit, you have to admit.

  7. #7 MS
    February 14, 2010

    IF, and this is a big if, Southwest’s account is accurate, I’m actually pretty much on their side on this one.

    But I certainly agree with #5 that the ever-shrinking seat room on planes is a big problem. I have a friend who is 6’8″. Flying on the commuter planes, which he has to do sometimes, is sheer torture for him and everyone around him. Those planes don’t have a first-class or business section, so even if he were willing and able to pay for an upgrade, it’s not an option.

  8. #8 Nick
    February 14, 2010

    The issue for airlines with passengers who do not fit easily into one seat is not comfort for other passengers. It is that there is the danger that the passenger could become trapped in the seat, and unable to evacuate quickly. The airline then has the problem of liability, knowing that the person concerned could have difficulty in evacuating in the event of an incident, and not taking steps to mitigate the risk to them. This is usually driven by their insurers.
    And Southwest are correct, this is an industry-wide procedure. Virgin Ataltic’s inaugural flight from London to Newark was delayed with exactly this problem; a passenger was checked in, managed to sit in his seat, but then was unable to get out. The seat had to be dismantled around him, and a lengthy delay was incurred. I know about this because I worked on the check-in counter for this flight (though thankfully I didn’t check the gentleman concerned in)
    Mr Smith is probably aware of this. As they mentioned, he usually pays for 2 seats, and so is able to fold up the armrest between the two seats and avoid the problem.
    I was in the airline industry for over 20 years, and several times had to tell people that they were not going to fit in the seat they had bought, and they would have to buy 2 seats or upgrade. It wasn’t a pleasant job.

  9. #9 Judy L.
    February 14, 2010

    If you read the response from Southwest, you’ll note two things: 1) they say that they refund the second seat charged to a “Customer of Size” if the flight is not oversold and 2) Kevin Smith had originally purchased two seats for his original flight, which means that he either knew about the policy or purchased two seats for his own comfort, or as is most likely, both.

    Southwest also talks about passenger safety and “comfort”. If they really gave a damn about comfort they would stop trying to cram more seats into each plane by making them narrower and forcing three people to sit in the space that really should be alloted for only two.

  10. #10 semi
    February 14, 2010

    Jebus H. Christ on a cracker! Look at the size of his pants! I am not taking sides on this one, but there is no doubt that he is a big guy. I wouldn’t want to be trapped against a bulkhead with him between me and the aisle.

  11. #11 subbie
    February 14, 2010

    Snootch to the m*therf*ckin’ nootch!

  12. #12 am91962
    February 14, 2010

    As a 6’6″ 400 pounder I don’t mind paying for two seats, it only seems fair since I take up two seats. At the same time though, those seats are too small. It can be painful having my knees in my chest for a four hour flight.

  13. #13 recovering catholic
    February 14, 2010

    I empathize, Carlie, but I’m not one to suffer in silence. On the other hand, it must be awful for people like Nick who have to tell persons who are overweight that there will be problems on the plane. I once was on a small prop plane with all passengers seated when a flight attendant singled out a large man and told him he’d have to sit in the seat across the aisle to “balance the plane”.

  14. #14 minimalist
    February 14, 2010

    Nothing says “I have given up on myself” like a denim dress and loafers.

  15. #15 gawiman
    February 14, 2010

    I have a chronic muscle pain condition, can’t fly, but here’s my question: since the airline knows the range of size that people have, why aren’t airplanes equipped with (some) plus-size seats? Saying only thin people can fly really is discrimination (and pretty unrealistic, given the, um, profile of most Americans).

    This seems like a creative design problem. Have a few rows of 1.5x seats, that should cost 1.5x the ticket price, not 2x. Maybe a couple 2x seats on the plane for those really big people. There, Southwest, was that so hard? Idiots.

  16. #16 mk
    February 14, 2010

    Kevin Smith is an unfunny, arrogant, gluttonous pig. No sympathy for him.

    But… as others have noted, the seating on many planes is so cramped even my 5′ 10″ frame has a difficult time on three hour flights if I don’t get the emergency exit seating.

    Fewer seats, more space would be very nice. However, prices today are nothing to sniff at so imagine costs then! I feel for larger people (tall or fat) who have to fly these cramped flying cigar tubes… and I actually appreciate Southwest’s situation, they aren’t the only airline with this problem. Tough call, either way. Piss off large passenger or small passenger next to him?

    But Kevin Smith? Fuck that guy.

  17. #17 cultureofdoubt
    February 14, 2010

    “It also on average affects women more than men, as women tend to be bigger in the hip while men are bigger higher up in the abdomen (affecting whether the arm rests can go down or not), so even if you did want to target just fat people it would be unfairly biased.”

    Odd, this is the second discussion I’m reading of this story, and in the other one someone’s saying it affects men more than women, as men tend to be bigger generally.

    Personally I think if you target one thing, and happen as a result to target some group slightly more than another due to a correlation then that’s just tough – it’s unavoidable. Either it’s legitimate to target the overweight in these circumstances or it isn’t – any correlation to anything else is maybe unfortunate but unavoidable.

  18. #18 Hank Fox
    February 14, 2010

    I read the whole story, and while I have some sympathy for him, I can never get over thinking how very FRAGILE the airline industry is. All it would take is a couple of really good terrorist scares, soaring fuel prices, or Bush-type control Nazis, and bye-bye airlines.

    I don’t always have a really great time when I fly, but I definitely do appreciate the fact that the airlines are there when I need them.

    Yeah, this is sort of funny, but it’s sort of short-sighted too. I’d bet money the reason he was flying Southwest was because they’re cheap, on-time and friendly. The same reasons I fly Southwest.

    My sympathy falls just slightly on the side of the airline.

  19. #19 NixNoctua
    February 14, 2010

    I remember when my parents use to work at RDU. Southwest was nicknamed Southworst and everyone knew it was a kind of a crappy airline…but cheap, so sometimes worth it. But they overbook too often and sometimes have to kick random people off the plane.

  20. #20 ilgreven
    February 14, 2010

    I’m sorry, but attitudes like the prevailing one on this thread is the prime reason why I will never, ever fly on a commercial airline.

  21. #21 Carlie
    February 14, 2010

    Another pie-in-the-sky idea would be for the country to actually invest in rail travel. Amtrak seats are quite comfy and roomy, yet they don’t have the right-of-way anywhere so they get delayed, and service to many areas is spotty or nonexistent, and we have nothing near the train technology that other countries have been using for decades. If there were a reasonable alternative to airline travel, people could have the choice of taking a little longer to get there comfortably, and airlines would then have a competitive reason to treat customers as more than a nuisance.

  22. #22 Matlot
    February 14, 2010

    Recently having had 1/4 of my airline seat occupied by a large woman for a 4 hour flight and the armrest with the headphones jacks made unavailable to me, I have very little sympathy for the sensitivities of that woman. I am not sure if the airline was at fault for allowing that person to occupy one seat and a portion of mine, but I certainly felt like the injured party.

  23. #23 Hank Fox
    February 14, 2010

    Ahem. Southwest is not a “crappy airline.” They’re a damned good airline, in my opinion.

    And I know it’s hard to imagine every single pilot as a Chesley Sullenburger, but the people who crew airlines aren’t just a bunch of irrational dimwits who got those jobs just the week before. They’re dedicated professionals, in the best senses of the term. Hell, if cops had a tenth the training pilots do, it would be a MUCH better world.

  24. #24 PhD Student
    February 14, 2010

    Y’all didn’t listen to his podcast.

    The issue isn’t with him being too fat.

    After he got on the 2nd plane, having bought two seats, another fat person sat down in the third seat in the row. (So that he was seated by the window, there was the empty middle seat that he bought, and then an aisle seat where the other fat person sat down.)

    Southwest took the other fat person who had bought that seat, a young girl, aside, and they told her she had to buy the middle seat.

    WHICH WAS ALREADY BOUGHT AND EMPTY.

    I don’t like the guy at all, but he has a point. What assholes.

  25. #25 Alverant
    February 14, 2010

    Americans are becoming larger and airline seats are becoming smaller. I’d have more sympathy for the airline if they didn’t treat us like cattle. Hell people have DIED because of the conditions on the airplane and they haven’t done shit to prevent it.

    I can appreciate their position, but if they would listen to their customers and have seats that actually fit this wouldn’t happen. I don’t just mean width, but length. I was on a plane where the woman in front of me leaned the seat back as far as it would go and crushed my knees. She wouldn’t do anything because the guy in front of her had the seat back too far. He felt he was entitled to do so regardless of who got hurt.

    I won’t fly because I don’t want to be treated that way.

  26. #26 Rawnaeris
    February 14, 2010

    Ok. I read Southwest’s version and I’ve listened to Kevin Smith’s version. After that I have to side with Kevin. He admits that he’s not skinny. He was pissed because the flight attendant embarrassed him in front of a plane full of people.

    And I just read PhD Student’s post which makes what I was about to write superfluous. He is also, and more pissed because treating large people like second class is apparently part of Southwest’s program.

  27. #27 Kyorosuke
    February 14, 2010

    mk @16:

    It really doesn’t matter what you think of his brand of comedy, but calling him “gluttonous” is out of line. You don’t think he’s funny, so therefore it’s okay to take potshots at his weight? Real classy, jackass.

  28. #28 John Noble
    February 14, 2010

    The comments here are a classic case of everybody wanting (pun intended) all of their cake and being able to eat it.

    The guy is fat. Pretty fat. So a lot of Americans are already fat? So what. He, as an individual, is fat enough to cause significant discomfort to his neighbour on an aeroplane. Fact.

    Next. You want wider seats? Right: so that means less seats on the plane. Last I saw airliner bodies are fixed width. So less seats equals less paying passengers.

    But! I bet you’re not willing to pay for those wider seats, are you? Of course not. We all know the travel industry is in crisis with major flag carriers threatening to drop like flies. Someone has to foot this bill, and it’s me and you.

    So where does that leave us? With a fat guy who should pay for two seats or lose weight.

    Yours from Australia, thankfully not yet quite as fat as America,
    j.

  29. #29 Carlie
    February 14, 2010

    Aside from all of the other issues, the way this is going down over and over again shows that it’s a damned stupid working business model that the airlines have when people begin to decide not to use them simply because they are scared of being humiliated in front of all the other passengers and treated like shit just for trying to purchase and use their services.

  30. #30 Josh, Official SpokesGay
    February 14, 2010

    @ Carlie:

    Another pie-in-the-sky idea would be for the country to actually invest in rail travel.

    .

    Yes, a thousand times yes. If I could avoid air travel and its attendant horrors for regional trips that are too long by car, I’d never set foot on an airplane again.

  31. #31 John Noble
    February 14, 2010

    (And before people give me stick for being “fattist” or “weightist” or whatever – yeah, I am. It’s one of the things you can, as an individual, do something about. You can’t help being black or gay or disabled, but you can help being fat*. Eat less and exercise more.)

    *Granted <1% of the population may have a diagnosable medical condition. The rest are just greedy. Sorry if you don’t like that but it’s dead true.

  32. #32 Sara
    February 14, 2010

    Mr. Smith was seated, meeting all the standards they specify -
    the arm rest was down and he was wearing a seat belt, without extender. He says he wasn’t in anyone else’s space.

    Mr. Smith further states that he has flown in planes with just one seat.

    The airline is not consistently applying their policy.
    There are daily instances where people as large or larger than Mr. Smith are allowed to fly in a single seat.(as noted above by other commenter)

    I think Mr. Smith was justly upset.
    I think SW’s policy is mediocre to OK. (its not an easy thing to work out). How it is implemented was deplorable.

    They are paying for it dearly. They are in jaws a PR nightmare.

    If he pushes it too long, he could hurt the companies business. He would do well to consider that he is hurting a lot of people that didn’t do this. It was bad choices by several individuals who work for SW.

    A downward trend in sales in a bad market would cause damage. SW Employees by thousand are at risk. Stockholders, airport employees, companies that partner with SW…The list goes on.

    A fit of pique, how ever righteous, doesn’t justify derailing an entire company. He holds a power card. I hope he doesn’t abuse it.

  33. #33 imflyboy
    February 14, 2010

    I’m a pilot for a major airline. It’s funny several people have mentioned that the airlines should increase the seat size to accommodate larger passengers. Unfortunately fewer seats mean higher ticket prices, and while people say they’d pay more for a larger seat, or other amenity, the truth is that most won’t. And while flying may have some drawbacks, the American public benefits from cheap tickets which allow more people the opportunity to travel.

  34. #34 ihateaphids
    February 14, 2010

    Kevin Smith is fat, but he is not sufficiently fat to be kicked off a plane. This is ridiculous that people are defending SW on this one.

    Yes it sucks to sit next to a fat guy, but not to the point that i would want him to leave unless he is literally overflowing into my space.

  35. #35 gawiman
    February 14, 2010

    True, Imflyboy, some people won’t pay, in which case they won’t fly. But lots of people don’t fly because planes can’t really accommodate them. Put in some bigger seats and watch a whole new group of customers show up with cash in hand.

    I’m sure somebody could provide the airlines with appropriate stats on how many big seats to install on each plane.

  36. #36 Carlie
    February 14, 2010

    But! I bet you’re not willing to pay for those wider seats, are you? Of course not. We all know the travel industry is in crisis with major flag carriers threatening to drop like flies. Someone has to foot this bill, and it’s me and you.
    So where does that leave us? With a fat guy who should pay for two seats or lose weight.

    But why should the fat guy be the only one paying more for wider seats? Why shouldn’t you pay more since you have such a phobia about being too close to another person? Why shouldn’t the 6’4″ skinny guy who is still invading my leg space with his big knees pay more? If you want to say that we ought to pay more for more space, fine and hallelujah, but don’t apply it inconsistently. Can I get a discount if I don’t get the pearl-clutching vapors if a fat person sits next to me? Since I’m around 5′ tall do I get a discount for not taking up too much knee and head room? If you want to charge for space, make it by the cubic inch inclusive of what you feel you need for your own “personal distance” to other passengers and I’ll be fine with it. But you can’t just pick on one single group and then claim that your choice of picked-upon group has anything to do with your level of comfort in the seats.

  37. #37 John Noble
    February 14, 2010

    @Carlie, okay, fine. Let’s charge per cubic inch of space.

    Which means I’m not picking on “one single group”, I’m picking on those people that take up way more room due to circumstances within their direct control.

    Tall people can’t help it if they’re tall. As a 5’8″ man (who really appreciates this fact when he flies) I sympathise with tall people. It must suck to be them – and if they’re very tall then yeah, maybe it sucks to be next to them.

    But if we’re talking about charging larger people more, where their largness is a choice, we’re still talking about fat people I’m afraid.

  38. #38 Ichthyic
    February 14, 2010

    …and if their “largness” isn’t a choice?

    I mean, hell, a tall person can cut their legs off below the knees, right?

  39. #39 pixelfish
    February 14, 2010

    Sometimes you can not help being fatter.

    Combinations of medications (birth control readily springs to mind) and various diseases (Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, frex) can cause people to gain an aggregate of about 40-50 pounds. Or maybe you are disabled, and can not exercise easily. Maybe you have a more serious disorder that affects metabolism and energy levels. (And the poorer you are, the harder that “Eat less, exercise more” becomes. Cheap food is often unhealthy food. Ramen = 400 calories and not super filling. Access to fresh fruit and veggies often costs more than many people think.)

    Whatever the cause, is it really too much to treat people with a little dignity. Not that the airlines and the TSA have much of THAT for anybody these days. Can’t be fat. Can’t study Arabic. Can’t protest inhumane treatment by TSA employees. Be subjected to full-body scans that show the contours of your body beneath your clothes but actually fail to spot some dangerous substances. Be crammed into a plane for hours on end and have the airline keep you on the runway in hot/cold weather so they don’t have to pay a second shift of workers. Be questioned for carrying money you earned at conventions. Not be able to feed your crying baby formula because you can only carry certain amounts of fluids on board. Possibly die (like Bret Hart’s mother) because your flight was grounded, your extra meds were checked with your bags and you ran out of the meds you were allowed to take.

    I would love to have a viable railway system. I’ve long thought our nation’s transit infrastructure sucked. (Honestly, if I’d been running stuff, I think I might have denied those bailout bonuses and possibly the bailout itself and sunk that money into building infrastructure and infrastructure jobs.)

  40. #40 Ballookey Klugeypop
    February 14, 2010

    A lot of folks haven’t even bothered with Kevin’s side of the story. I wouldn’t be so quick to buy the corporate version. Gosh, do you think they might be doing some damage control? Also, while he IS a big guy, you can’t judge from one photo. His weight fluctuates so snap judgements based on one data point aren’t appropriate.

    Just two days before he flew just fine in a single seat on the exact same trip.

    As was pointed out, Southwest has standards and Kevin was within them. Everything else, Southwest brought on themselves due to poor employee training and inconsistent application of standards. Kevin might have even let it pass, if it weren’t for the nonsense where they admonished another passenger that she should have bought a second seat – even though it was only the two of them in a three seat row on a flight with plenty of empty seats. Kevin realized he had to make some noise because a lot of folks are unjustly targeted for cruelty who have no platform to air their grievances.

    And lastly, if it’s truly a safety issue, and not just a “safety” issue, then why doesn’t the flight crew take a last walkthrough and pull ALL of the large people? Kevin said as he was being booted, he made eye contact with a much larger passenger in a middle seat a few rows back and didn’t say anything because he didn’t want to “throw a fellow fatty under the bus”. But if the safety issues are real, then the airline staff should have booted that other guy too.

  41. #41 https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawlp989lfUEZdOe06KgoDibYpfTqDdts9bE
    February 14, 2010

    Listen to his cast. Rambling fat guy never getting to the point that his problem is weight, poor health and hygiene. His frame tells a lot about his mind. That`s what turns people off. Ugly inside and out.

  42. #42 Carlie
    February 14, 2010

    So John, you’re proposing that in order to properly calculate how much someone should pay for an airline seat, they need to provide evidence of whether or not their size is a choice? So they would have to include all incidences of crash dieting in their past (which affects metabolism), all medications they have ever been on that can affect weight gain/loss, and any physical ailments they might have that affect their mobility, and then the ticket agent would have to factor all of those together to figure out how much of a person’s weight is their own fault and then charge them accordingly. That sounds like a great plan.

  43. #43 ihateaphids
    February 14, 2010

    remember it’s not a safety issue
    it’s a Safety issue

  44. #44 Tom Paine
    February 14, 2010

    I’m surprised at you, PZ. We’ve all flown next to fat (not necessarily “big”) people and it’s no fun.
    Smith IS too fat to fit in an airline seat. If he wants to avoid embarrassment he knows what to do and that ISN’T to subject 1.5 million people to his ranting.

    Why so sympathetic? Any male who wears denim petticoat breeches deserves it all.

  45. #45 Carlie
    February 14, 2010

    Smith IS too fat to fit in an airline seat.

    Then why was he able to fit in the airline seat?

  46. #46 ihateaphids
    February 14, 2010

    “it’s no fun. ”

    yeah sometimes it’s no fun. but hey, be a fucking human being and deal with it. if there’s a dude overflowing then there’s a problem, but if the armrests are down, then deal with it and be a fucking civilized person.

  47. #47 Ichthyic
    February 14, 2010

    Any male who wears denim petticoat breeches deserves it all.

    pathetic.

    tell those kids to get off your lawn while yer at it.

  48. #48 John Noble
    February 14, 2010

    @Carlie, I think it’s a little disingenuous to suggest that I’m the one putting forth a ludicrous plan which ought to take in to account one’s personal medical history.

    I think if we step back and look at this, we can both agree that a lot (not all) of Americans are unhealthily large and a lot (not all) of these are so because they eat too much crap food.

    I’m simply suggesting that Kevin’s issue is indicative of a wider problem; that being that your nation eats too much and needs to take a look at itself and its eating habits rather than initially blaming an airline for challenging an obese man about his weight.

    I think we’re arguing the wrong point here and I’m surprised and disappointed at PZ for bringing it up like this.

    The simple fact is that most overweight Americans are so because they eat far, far too much. Let’s not beat up on the airlines as a result.

  49. #49 WowbaggerOM
    February 14, 2010

    #41 wrote:

    Listen to his cast. Rambling fat guy never getting to the point that his problem is weight, poor health and hygiene. His frame tells a lot about his mind. That`s what turns people off. Ugly inside and out.

    Yeah, that’s why he’s single and lonely rather than married to a smart, successful woman with whom he has a child. Oh, wait

    Idiot.

  50. #50 Kel, OM
    February 14, 2010

    For those arguing that morbidly obese people shouldn’t get special treatment because it’s a choice, a question along those same lines. Would someone who as a result of their own reckless stupidity injured themselves to the point of needing special dispensation on account of their disability have to pay extra for being accommodated?

  51. #51 dustycrickets
    February 14, 2010

    Wowbagger @49

    Thanks for handling that…nicely done.

  52. #52 John Noble
    February 15, 2010

    @Kel, interesting philosophical point and logically I have to agree with you. It doesn’t “sit right” with me but I suppose it is right.

    This is where I battle with the idea of being a libertarian vs. not (although we don’t really have those terms in Oz or the UK, where I’m from). I’m all for the state taxing people for essential services (police, schools, healthcare) and generally disagree with private industry in those areas, but then when it comes to your own very personal choices – whether to do that bungee jump which ends up smashing your spine which means you take up more room on a leisure flight – then you’re on your own, yeah, and you pay for the consequences.

    How that fits with my view that the state should run free healthcare for all isn’t clear. I’ll admit that I confuse myself with my opposing views here.

    Fat is still fat. Eat less.

  53. #53 frankosaurus
    February 15, 2010

    if he was treated in an undignified manner, then it’s right that he be reimbursed and issued an apology. But it’s not right that this turn into some sort of cause. Smith is a large man, and a large man has to face certain consequences in society. Hopefully this provides the motivation for him to do something about his health, as I’m sure he could.

    At any rate, I don’t think we’ve heard the REAL reason why he was kicked off. And that is that an overweight atheist risks trapping the souls of neighbouring passengers he spills over in the event of the rapture. Like, duh! :)

  54. #54 Hank Fox
    February 15, 2010

    Ha! Say what you will about Kevin Smith, he was cool enough to name his daughter HARLEY QUINN — after The Joker’s sidekick from Batman: the Animated Series!

  55. #55 WowbaggerOM
    February 15, 2010

    Fat is still fat. Eat less.

    Bullshit. Learn to read and start with pixelfish’s comment at #39.

  56. #56 mistermuz
    February 15, 2010

    I haven’t read all the details so forgive me, but isn’t there some rule somewhere that says the captain has the last word on safety and who can and can’t travel on the “ship”, as it were, and consumer rights be damned?

    Seems like a sensible policy to me, if occasionally capricious.

  57. #57 subbie
    February 15, 2010

    John Noble:

    Yeah, those disgusting porkers should eat less and exercise more, and if their lifestyle choices cost more, they should pay for it.

    Just like gays and HIV, right? I mean, sure, some people get HIV through no fault of their own, but the rest of ‘em, make ‘em pay for the consequences of their lifestyle choices.

    Right?

  58. #58 Josh, Official SpokesGay
    February 15, 2010

    Weird. I just tried to post, and it got “held for moderation.” Didn’t even include any links. I wonder what I did?

  59. #59 WowbaggerOM
    February 15, 2010

    Weird. I just tried to post, and it got “held for moderation.” Didn’t even include any links. I wonder what I did?

    It might be your registration playing up.

  60. #60 Antiochus Epiphanes
    February 15, 2010

    I can’t imagine ever being so displaced by an obese neighbor that I would want to see them humiliated like this. And I say this as 1) a person who flies a lot, and 2) a person who is generally an unlikable dick, and 3) a guy whose stomach lurches violently at thought of sitting through a Kevin Smith film. What’s the big deal? Can’t plug your headphones into the armrest to watch a crappy airline-safe movie? Are you getting touched by the side of a flabby arm/leg/boob. Let me call you a waaaaaambulance.

    In a way, the unlikable dick part of me enjoys seeing the very tall/large trundled into one of those undersized SW seats. I am short and have never been very large…as a result, I have received more than my share of Wilsonburgers, asskickings, and heee-larious jokes from tall people about how the uppermost shelves in my apartment are empty. These are the conditions that short people learn to live with. On the other hand, I fit comfortably in an airline seat, and realize (sometimes to my shame) that I take some glee in knowing that the powerdunking strong forward next to me is less comfortable than I am. This is the kind of Shadenfreude that gets my 30-inches-off-the-ground ass out of bed in the morning. And every once in a while, when I am feeling compassionate, I just think…hey, I can share a little space with a ginormous stranger and live unscathed from physical or emotional damage. I might even have a soft shoulder on which to lay my weary head. Fact is, I’d rather sit next to a large-sized person than one who likes to talk a lot when all I want to do is read my book.*

    *These types also seem to be commonly afflicted with halitosis.

  61. #61 Josh, Official SpokesGay
    February 15, 2010

    Wowbagger – actually, I’m wondering if it’s because I mentioned some pharmaceuticals by name, and that triggered a spam filter (trust me, there was a good context).

    I don’t know whether to resubmit by taking out some of the letters in the names – I don’t want to annoy PZ.

  62. #62 subbie
    February 15, 2010

    Josh, maybe your post was too fat and was impinging on space more properly reserved for two thinner posts.

  63. #63 dustycrickets
    February 15, 2010

    @23

    ” They’re dedicated professionals, in the best senses of the term. ”

    Some are …..and then some are drunks.
    I’ve been deliberately and repeatedly lied to by various airlines over the years…more than any other industry by far. I no longer fly , mainly because of the lies..and I enjoy the hell out of a good road trip. ( long time Dead Head )

  64. #64 Nick
    February 15, 2010

    Airlines are not public transport. They are private companies, making money by renting space on their aircraft. If you want more space, they will sell it to you, at a higher price. If they can’t, you go on another airline, or find alternative means of transport.
    Yes, airlines often are very inconsistent with their application of legal regulations and company policies. This is due mainly to the fact that they are pretty much run on the barest minimum of resourcing. The industry is chronically unprofitable (the US industry as a whole has lost as much money as it has ever made, and most of the major carriers have been though bankruptcy at least once).
    None of this is an excuse of course. Yes, they should provide a better service, but service equates to better resourcing, which means raising ticket prices. And there is always another airline who will happily undercut any airline that raises prices much above an industry average.
    Historically, any benefits that would have allowed airlines to increase their margins are always turned into lower fares for passengers. Compare the average price of a ticket, on a cost per kilometre basis, and, ignoring short-term fluctuations, prices have fallen over time. Flying is cheaper now than ever.
    There is an old joke in the airline industry. If you want to make a million with an airline, start at a billion and work your way down. That was told to me by a man who owned an airline (Frank Lorenzo).
    Southwest may well have applied company policy inconsistently, and without sensitivity, to Mr Smith. It is a sad fact though that this sort of incident happens daily, all across the industry, and will continue to happen as long as the industry operates in the environment that it does.

  65. #65 Josh, Official SpokesGay
    February 15, 2010

    @subbie

    Josh, maybe your post was too fat and was impinging on space more properly reserved for two thinner posts.

    You owe me a new keyboard.

  66. #66 Josh, Official SpokesGay
    February 15, 2010

    Ugh, blockquote fail.

    Josh, maybe your post was too fat and was impinging on space more properly reserved for two thinner posts.

    You owe me a new keyboard.

  67. #67 jody001
    February 15, 2010

    >but you can help being fat*

    Except, of course, there’s very little evidence that you can. Fat isn’t it isn’t a sign of corpulence or indulgence or a physical expression of morality.

  68. #68 monado
    February 15, 2010

    It’s odd that they don’t have a few rows with two seats instead of three for the larger than average passengers.

  69. #69 John Noble
    February 15, 2010

    @subbie, way to twist a point.

    I’m not going to get in to it too much, but let’s just say:

    Gay man contracts HIV
    Who knows the situation? Impossible to tell.

    Man gets fat
    There may be a congenital issue with this man – however, just throwing it out there, but maybe he should try
    - eating less, and
    - exercising more
    as a start?

    Look, I’ve lost 5kgs recently. I got a stomach bug which helped: I’m 67kgs and 5’8″. Pretty much my ideal body weight. Before I was a little overweight – I had a bit of a pot belly.

    So now I’m typing this and I’m hungry. I could eat. I know there are biscuits in the kitchen but I am consciously choosing not to go in there and eat them. This is not easy. I want a biscuit.

    If I eat a biscuit, I get fat again. I don’t want that.

    Let’s flip this from the politically-correct bashing of people like me, shall we, and challenge those who are saying “it’s okay to be as fat as you like and bugger the consequences to the rest of society” to defend their point. Over to you.

  70. #70 John Noble
    February 15, 2010

    Oh, and as well as not eating as many biscuits you know what else I’m doing? I walk or cycle to work. I avoid powered transport wherever possible. I go to the gym 3 times a week and swim 3 times a week.

    But go ahead, have that cake, it’s fine. You’ll be right. Want another? Here, have mine.

  71. #71 dustycrickets
    February 15, 2010

    John is better than fat folks…got it.
    Thanks….bye bye now.
    Thanks.

  72. #72 subbie
    February 15, 2010

    John:

    Gay man contracts HIV
    Who knows the situation? Impossible to tell.

    Man gets fat
    There may be a congenital issue with this man – however, just throwing it out there, but maybe he should try
    - eating less, and
    - exercising more
    as a start?

    Look, I’ve lost 5kgs recently. I got a stomach bug which helped: I’m 67kgs and 5’8″. Pretty much my ideal body weight. Before I was a little overweight – I had a bit of a pot belly.

    So now I’m typing this and I’m hungry. I could eat. I know there are biscuits in the kitchen but I am consciously choosing not to go in there and eat them. This is not easy. I want a biscuit.

    If I eat a biscuit, I get fat again. I don’t want that.

    Let’s flip this from the politically-correct bashing of people like me, shall we, and challenge those who are saying “it’s okay to be as fat as you like and bugger the consequences to the rest of society” to defend their point. Over to you.

    Who knows the situation? Impossible to tell.

    Fixed it for you.

  73. #73 Ichthyic
    February 15, 2010

    I think we’re arguing the wrong point here and I’m surprised and disappointed at PZ for bringing it up like this.

    concern troll is concerned.

  74. #74 Josh, Official SpokesGay
    February 15, 2010

    As someone who has to fly about 12 times a year for work (and who hates it), I’ve developed a Frequent Flyer’s Survival Kit to make a hellish experience just a little bit more bearable. Mind, I’m prone to panic attacks, so you may not have to go quite so heavy on the pharmaceuticals. . your mileage may vary:)

    SpokesGay’s Frequent Flyer’s Survival Kit

    Ingredients

    - X*n*x, the fastest-acting, quickest wear-off b*nzodiazepine

    - Light-blocking eyemask

    - Foam earplugs

    - One seriously engrossing book

    - One stupid magazine or puzzle book

    - Salty or sweet snack of choice

    - Bottle of water

    - U-shaped neck pillow

    - Nicotine inhalers (non-smokers may skip these obviously. And no, smokers, you may not substitute nicotine gum. It doesn’t work as well, and doesn’t give you the same satisfaction.)

    Method

    X*n*x is the tranquilizer of choice, since it acts quickly. This makes it ideal to stop a panic attack quickly. But, do take your pills at least one hour before boarding. This gives it time to reach maximum efficacy. Even normal people (read: not anxiety freaks like me) will find their flying experience more pleasant
    with one of SpokesGay’s ‘Lil Helpers (TM).

    Insert foam earplugs when seated. Don’t get the rubber or plastic kind – they’re uncomfortable. Adjust pillow around neck, and place mask over eyes. By this point you should be pleasantly mellowed, and ready to fall asleep.

    If you’ve used SpokesGay’s Kit successfully, you should sleep through the flight. This prevents you having to be aware of anything, including your “seat partners” and surly flight attendants.

    Should you find yourself waking up or getting edgy, simply munch on some snacks and read something to take your mind off it. Smokers may suck on nicotine inhalers as needed. DO NOT remove earplugs under any circumstances, or you will have to acknowledge anyone who speaks to you. You don’t really want to talk to people on a plane, do you? Plus, you will have to listen to flight attendants using nonsensical jargon – really, must they refer to a plain old tray as a “tray table?” Spare yourself the aggravation.

    The preceding does not constitute medical advice, and should not be substituted for consultation with your medical professional (or with your own personal SpokeSpokesGay

  75. #75 https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawkiGF2ZBmSSmv7yE-FvTxAJTOteQD0R1YY
    February 15, 2010

    Yeesh, so many bitter fat people posting here.

  76. #76 flame821
    February 15, 2010

    Wow, John Noble, you are REALLY coming across as a jackass.

    So glad you have your life so together that your biggest problem is a 5kg weight gain. Must be nice.

    As for the rest of us: I think what really sent KS over the edge was the fact that on the first flight there was another man who was noticeably heavier than him and the man was not asked to disembark. On the second flight, another ‘fattie’ sat in the same row of seat and she was told that she should have bought 2 tickets. Basically they wanted her to pay for the empty seat between KS and herself, the one HE HAD ALREADY PAID FOR.

    But I guess in some people’s world it is okay to discriminate against people who don’t have a body you approve of. After all they could have their stomach stapled, or removed. Or have that nose fixed, dental implants, pecs sculpted, breasts augmented. After all, we all know world peace will happen when everyone looks like Barbie and Ken.

  77. #77 Antiochus Epiphanes
    February 15, 2010

    Fatty anger is a weird new fetish that I don’t understand. John Noble…if you want a cookie, eat a cookie. If you want to be thin, don’t. I could give a rats ass either way. The consequences for society aren’t that …erm…heavy.

    People who refuse to learn to think are a bigger problem. However, they are not disallowed from attending movies, flying on flights, or voting. Hell. We made one of them President not long ago. One of them killed my car. If we don’t demand public humiliation of the dumb, I think we can leave the fatties be.

  78. #78 bubbabubba666
    February 15, 2010

    There is no simple answer or single person to blame here but I will say this. Having to sit next to a fat person on a plane and having them pushing into you the entire flight is painful and the equivalent of having to be forced to inhale the smoke of a smoker when you don’t smoke.

    Also, the idea that someone can get the armrests down is a laughable defense. This woman can fit in a bikini too. http://i50.photobucket.com/albums/f315/lokoike/FatLady.jpg

    I feel equally sympathetic for the fat people and don’t know if there is a good/fair solution here.

  79. #79 monado
    February 15, 2010

    Actually, there’s some evidence that certain bacteria can make you hungrier and fatter for the rest of your life. It’s generally found in those who are overweight but don’t have high cholesterol.

  80. #80 WowbaggerOM
    February 15, 2010

    Yeesh, so many bitter fat people posting here.

    Really? You can judge a person’s physique from their words? That’s some skill you’ve got there.

    Or, more likely, you’ve got no fucking idea what you’re talking about. Chances are I’m in as good physical shape as you, shithead – if not better.

    The difference between us is that I don’t feel the need to try and pretend that my not being overweight is due to some tremendous personal achievement or strong character when all I’ve really done is receive the genes to be that way from my parents.

    Just like all those people you seem to want to write off as choosing to be fat and lazy.

  81. #81 Kel, OM
    February 15, 2010

    This is where I battle with the idea of being a libertarian vs. not (although we don’t really have those terms in Oz or the UK, where I’m from).

    The use of the word libertarian in the UK / Australia means something very different to how it is used in the US. I used to describe myself as a libertarian until I came across American libertarians and decided I don’t want to even appear to be anything near that ideology. It’s truly scary stuff.

    The philosophical question is something that’s extended out of my musing over the relationship between the freedom of the individual in relation to their role in the greater society as a whole. At what points does the limits of individual choice outweigh the limits by which these choices effect others? The naive individualist fails to recognise that choices don’t in-fact exist in a vacuum, and as an inherently social species it is impossible for us to have absolute freedom to swing our fists because sooner or later we will end up connecting with another’s mouth.

    Smoking is one issue at hand here, by now it shouldn’t be a problem to say that there’s associated costs with the long term practice as medical complications arise. How much should society have to foot the bill so to speak of the associated costs that come with the practice? On this I think the taxation route is useful – that taxes on cigarettes goes towards paying for the medical system as well as training doctors. But this itself doesn’t actually solve it, by having those who chose to smoke being kept alive, it’s taking away resources that could be dedicated to others who didn’t make such choices.

    The idea of choice, of free will, seems central to our ideas. That it’s our fault and we should have to suffer if we choose a path that inevitably impedes others. Now maybe barring a few people, I’m betting none eat to be morbidly obese. I’m going to bet that people who get morbidly obese do so as a by-product of what they consume. Sort of like sex isn’t necessarily for making babies but having a baby can be a side-effect of having sex. Some conservatives use this argument to argue against abortion – arguing that people had a choice in having sex therefore should be punished* for the consequences of their actions.

    I don’t find the argument from choice very sound as it means that we’re punishing people from the consequences of choices as opposed to the choice itself. Perhaps an argument could be made that since consequences of actions are known that consequences come into choices, but that’s a different argument.

    *punished in the sense of keeping an unwanted pregnancy – not saying pregnancy is punishment.

  82. #82 Antiochus Epiphanes
    February 15, 2010

    Having to sit next to a fat person on a plane and having them pushing into you the entire flight is painful and the equivalent of having to be forced to inhale the smoke of a smoker when you don’t smoke.

    Painful? Are you made out of nothing but nerves? I fly ALL the goddamned time and have never once been injured by my hubby row mate. Further, the comparison is ludicrous. Sitting next to a fat person (contrary to public opinion) does not cause cancer/emphysema/watery eyes/asthma attacks. Don’t worry, double bubba…there is a waaambulance on the way.

  83. #83 Ichthyic
    February 15, 2010

    Let’s flip this from the politically-correct bashing of people like me, shall we, and challenge those who are saying “it’s okay to be as fat as you like and bugger the consequences to the rest of society”

    IOW, lets frame the discussion to your liking, and ignore the topic of the thread, and anything anyone else has to say.

    nope.

    go away.

  84. #84 Antiochus Epiphanes
    February 15, 2010

    heee heee. I meant “chubby” row mate. I don’t have a husband. My wife would disapprove of that.

  85. #85 Josh, Official SpokesGay
    February 15, 2010

    But this itself doesn’t actually solve it, by having those who chose to smoke being kept alive, it’s taking away resources that could be dedicated to others who didn’t make such choices.

    Wow, just wow. Where does the line get drawn? Do morbidly obese people get to be “kept alive” even if they made “bad choices?” Should I be grateful, as a smoker, that any doctor is willing to treat me, instead of throwing me out of his office?

    Many people make “sub-optimal” choices when it comes to health. Yes, it costs all of us money. Yes, some of it is foolish. But I can’t understand why so much moral vitriol has become attached to that – it’s as if human beings are obligated to live their lives with “how much they cost *other people*” as the foremost determinant of their behavior.

    Yikes. I don’t make the healthiest choices in some areas. I know a lot of other people who don’t, either. But I don’t want to deny them healthcare, and I don’t want to publicly vilify them. I have this odd idea that human beings are imperfect creatures who make decisions and trade-offs between economic rationality and what they enjoy, even if it’s physically harmful. I don’t begrudge these other people healthcare.

    What am I missing?

  86. #86 arch_incubus
    February 15, 2010

    @John- I don’t comment here often, but crap was just too Palinesque to let pass.
    You say that you’re from the UK and you don’t have terms like ‘Libertarian’ there… Bull. Two separate parties within the first 3 results on a basic Google search.
    You say large people should just eat less. Sorry Bub, that doesn’t always work. Nor does exercising always help people thin down. Take it from a vegetarian who watches what he eats and used to bike to work (approximately 20 miles per day).
    You say that you’re just butt-hurt because someone you don’t like is richer, happier, and more respected than you? Oh, you didn’t have to say that, it shows. Why not just toddle off and exercise some more. After all, fit people never have health problems or die. Just ask Jim Fixx…

  87. #87 Antiochus Epiphanes
    February 15, 2010

    Double Bubba 666: I usually ignore links–however, I clicked yours. What is your point in posting that one? You feel “sympathetic” for fat people? Shit. I’ll go tell them. They will all be relieved.

  88. #88 jrberg
    February 15, 2010

    Couple of things…

    One, psychiatric medications that are absolutely necessary to treat certain diseases cause weight gain as a side effect. Many people who can function in society are overweight because they have to use these meds.

    Second, I was on a Southwest flight in January, and the cabin crew kept kids from going to the bathroom. The rear toilet was disabled, and the crew wouldn’t let anyone line up near the cabin for the front toilet. So these poor parents would watch, get up when someone came out of the loo, but because they were near the rear of the plane, someone else would get up and get to the bathroom first. This is the definition of a really stupid policy, and even if it is a TSA rule, I will not fly Southwest again. They should be able to work with TSA to create commonsense methods of security.

    Finally, I’m 6’4″, which I’m pretty sure was not my fault, and I hate flying because of that, too.

  89. #89 Jadehawk, OM
    February 15, 2010

    So now I’m typing this and I’m hungry. I could eat. I know there are biscuits in the kitchen but I am consciously choosing not to go in there and eat them. This is not easy. I want a biscuit.

    If I eat a biscuit, I get fat again. I don’t want that.

    Oh, and as well as not eating as many biscuits you know what else I’m doing? I walk or cycle to work. I avoid powered transport wherever possible. I go to the gym 3 times a week and swim 3 times a week.

    good for you, that you have such a cushy life that you have the time and opportunity to work out almost every day of the week and live in a place with the infrastructure and climate that allows you to walk or cycle to work and also work close enough to where you live to be able to do that and do not face so many daily challenges to your willpower that you can actually still have that battle with yourself over a fucking biscuit at the end of the day and can actually afford to live off food that doesn’t make you fat and apparently don’t have any more pressing problems in your life that you can spend so much of it just dealing with your appearance.

  90. #90 bubbabubba666
    February 15, 2010

    @#87. My point was that the fact that you can fit in between armrests doesn’t mean you aren’t flowing over into the next seat causing discomfort to both yourself and the person next to you. Yet people use the defense that they were able to get the armrests down as if it proves they “fit”.

    I did not insult fat people and yes I do feel sympathetic for their plight.

  91. #91 merlin
    February 15, 2010

    The airplane seats are far too narrow. So, I sympathize with Kevin. It is very intolerant to blame him for being fat. How many of us can be blamed for our own actions in a similar vein? Should we refuse Medicare for a smoker who comes down with lung cancer? Should we not treat a broken ankle of a woman who falls wearing high heels because it was her choice to wear those heels? Should we let someone die who was driving and has a car accident because they were on the cell phone? How many of us are ‘pure’ enough to claim the high ground? Part of being in a civilized society is tolerance and shared sacrifice and gain. Reasonable seating accomidations is something we all should agree on.

  92. #92 Josh, Official SpokesGay
    February 15, 2010

    @ Jadehawk, #89.

    Nicely done! Now, I’m going to eat some tofu. But you know what health police? I’m going to deep fry it.

  93. #93 ScienceRob
    February 15, 2010

    I am surprised at this reaction, especially from people who are posting on a science blog which is dedicated towards the power of reason.

    The bigger issue here is the inconsistency of their policy and the fact that they kicked him off without letting him know exactly what safety protocol he was violating.

  94. #94 John Noble
    February 15, 2010

    @arch_incubus, I’m sure if you Google “purple grasshopper” you’ll find a few hits – it doesn’t mean anyone actually knows what they are or uses the term daily. “Libertarian” just isn’t a phrase English people use.

    As for the rest of you, I still haven’t heard anyone defend (or explain, or rationalise) massive over-consumption.

    I’m being a bit obnoxious here because I am trying to push a point. I think society has become far too “there, there” to any group who sees themselves as disenfranchised. We’re far too scared of offending.

    All I’m saying that in many (not – repeat – not all) cases, we can call a spade a spade. Fat people cause other people significant discomfort on aeroplanes and it’s their own fault because they eat too much and don’t exercise. Simple as that.

    If someone would care to refute that I’ll listen, otherwise I’m bored and I’m off. It’s been a pleasure.

  95. #95 Josh, Official SpokesGay
    February 15, 2010

    @ merlin

    Part of being in a civilized society is tolerance and shared sacrifice and gain.

    Thank you.

  96. #96 WowbaggerOM
    February 15, 2010

    As I alluded to, I’m thin – but I don’t exercise that much; while I don’t live on junk food, nor do I live on salad, either. I hate vegetables a lot and have only managed to not die from scurvy because of vegetable juice.

    My secret? Here’s a hint:My mother is about five-four and has the bones of a hummingbird. I’m pretty much genetically programmed to be thin. Why the fuck would I assume that someone being overweight hasn’t gotten unlucky in the same way that I’ve gotten lucky?

    Unless you know for a fact a person is that way because of entirely voluntary reasons – remembering there are physiological and psychological reasons for obesity – don’t go assuming that it’s because they’re lazy and weak.

  97. #97 Jadehawk, OM
    February 15, 2010

    John, stop pretending as if being fat is an individual problem. i know libertarians love to do that, but the real world just doesn’t work like that. it’s a systemic problem, and will for the most part only be solved by systemic solutions. you want more healthier, slimmer people? make healthy food cheaper than junk-food; create better day-care centers and lobby for wages that don’t require people to have more than one job; make your town infrastructures more walkable/bikable; fight urban sprawl and food deserts; provide opportunities and infrastructure for people to work out for free, at all times of the day; etc.

    and lastly, accept that the world will always have people who do not conform to your ideal of what a human should be and look like, and stop being a condescending ass about it.

  98. #98 WowbaggerOM
    February 15, 2010

    John Noble, ignorant privileged fucktard, wrote:

    Fat people cause other people significant discomfort on aeroplanes and it’s their own fault because they eat too much and don’t exercise.

    Learn to read, fucktard. You’ve had it pointed out to you a number of times on this thread that this is not always the case and yet you continue to repeat your mantra of cluelessness.

    Here are the numbers of the posts which demonstrating that you’re wrong: 39, 67, 79 and 89.

    Either pay attention or fuck off.

  99. #99 Cinnamonbite
    February 15, 2010

    WOW! He’s put on A LOT of weight!
    Yes, OBVIOUSLY, he’s too fat to fly. Twittering to his fans doesn’t make him any thinner, it just makes him look like he doesn’t have the sense to be embarrassed.
    Of course he says he fits just fine in his seat. Ask the people sitting next to him how fine he was. Bet they were dreading the next few hours.

  100. #100 A. Noyd
    February 15, 2010

    MS (#7)

    I have a friend who is 6’8″. Flying on the commuter planes, which he has to do sometimes, is sheer torture for him and everyone around him.

    I was on such a plane with a really tall guy sitting next to me. He was kind of a jerk and kept turning himself sideways so he was taking up half my seat. And “falling asleep” and moving so he took up more of my seat and then not “waking up” to move. So no sympathy for that guy, even if by some amazing coincidence he was your friend, but I’ve given up seats with more leg room to large passengers who are at least making an effort to respect the personal space of others because the seat situation is just so ridiculous.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~

    Antiochus Epiphanes (#60)

    Fact is, I’d rather sit next to a large-sized person than one who likes to talk a lot when all I want to do is read my book.

    Or the ones who wear six gallons of perfume. Or who don’t know how to distract their tantrum-prone children. Or who get totally shitfaced and act like they’re at the sports bar with their chums who are two rows away. Or who jiggle the leg they’ve got crammed against yours for no reason for the entire flight. Or who blast shitty music through their cheap as hell headphones. Or who need to get into the giant carry-on stuck under the seat for a new form of entertainment every fifteen minutes. So yeah, I’d always prefer to sit next to a fat person who respects boundaries over a dumbass who doesn’t know how not to be annoying for a few hours.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~

    @ Jadehawk (#97)
    Nice summation of the reality of the matter there.

  101. #101 Kel, OM
    February 15, 2010

    The more I think about this, the more uncomfortable I am with the argument. It’s like a middle class man who tells the homeless to “get a job”. It’s the mirror of achievement, we take credit for success therefore we should be blamed for our failings. Of course it doesn’t work that way in the real world, but the mentality that is taken is that we are masters of our own destiny in control in every facet of our lives. “If I can avoid temptation, why can’t you?” And thus we can look down on others for their failure to be able to do so.

  102. #102 speedweasel
    February 15, 2010

    Meh. Apparently even atheists have slow news days.

  103. #103 Rorschach
    February 15, 2010

    “Libertarian” just isn’t a phrase English people use.

    The british commenters here might want to disagree.

    make healthy food cheaper than junk-food;

    I think this is as much a problem of the individual as it is a general society-wide issue.There is a reason there are shows like “The biggest loser” on TV, after all.
    But it is just not true that healthy food is more expensive, apart from things like berries maybe.A low-carb diet with vegetables like beans/broccoli, with red meat/fish/chicken, some muesli instead of rubbish white bread, and some yogurt or protein drinks inbetween, is not that difficult or expensive to comply with.
    I can match the 4.99 cheeseburger meal from McD with something nutritionally useful, it’s not that hard.
    Which is not saying that I agree with John on the issue of responsibility.
    The australian government has recently introduced a few pretty good public health measures, aimed at improving food in public hospitals for example, and moving soft drinks to the bottom of drinks vending machines.

  104. #104 fiona.wallace.fiction
    February 15, 2010

    If weight is purely related to overeating (ie no willpower, as alluded to above), why are certain genetic conditions almost inevitably associated with weight gain? (Down’s is a good example).

    Why does a large proportion of women gain weight after menopause? Surely menopause isn’t associated with a sudden nosedive in willpower?

    Speaking as an ex-fattie (previously 110kg or about 260lbs and 5′ 6″), who now lives on less than 1000 calories a day to maintain my 75kgs, yes, being thin is possible for all of us. But in my bread, rice, flour, pasta, potato, pumpkin, bean, butter, cream, sugar, cheese, beef, ham, pork, and bacon-free world, it’s a pretty miserable existence, sometimes.

    You see, John, for some of us it’s about a little more than the willpower required to not eat that extra biscuit.

    But don’t worry, you go on despising people like me who can’t reach your perfect ideal. I did try, but the dizzy spells and fainting prevented me from cutting calories any further.

    No excuse, though, really, is it? I should simply starve myself. After all, as I’m often reminded, there were no fat people in Belsen.

  105. #105 Janet Holmes
    February 15, 2010

    All you have to do is look at the statistics. Fewer that 2% of fat people who lose weight keep it off long term. It is much harder to live your whole life hungry than the naturally thin realise. If you think it’s so easy try it.

  106. #106 Rorschach
    February 15, 2010

    australian government

    make that Victorian government, sorry.

  107. #107 otrame
    February 15, 2010

    Oh, some on guys. John Noble sounds like the kind of guy who has very little to feel superior about, so he has to get it where he can. He gets to feel superior to fat people. That’s the best he can do. Poor guy.

    BTW, I add my vote for train travel. I live in San Antonio. RIght now, to get to Atlanta to see my grandkids, I’d have to go through St. Louis and DC. If routes could be improved and schedules not constantly thrown off by freight trains that have the priority, I’d never get on a plane again. And I love flying. I just can’t stand being packed into a plane with all the other sardines. It didn’t use to be like that.

  108. #108 bubbabubba666
    February 15, 2010

    I don’t know if this has already been mentioned but I read about a study the other day that shows that children who are obese before the age of 2 are exponentially more likely to remain fat for the rest of their lives. I believe the theory was that their metabolism gets set very early (I am sure my explanation is lacking).

    If that is true, clearly many fat people face a difficult challenge.

  109. #109 Rorschach
    February 15, 2010

    After all, as I’m often reminded, there were no fat people in Belsen.

    Uhoh, godwinned @ post 104, didnt take long did it.

    It is much harder to live your whole life hungry

    If you feel hungry when you try to lose weight then chances are that you are doing it wrong.

  110. #110 speedweasel
    February 15, 2010

    ps. I hope this whole ‘fat’ think dies down before our dinner in Melbourne next month.

    Wont that be awkward when Pharyngulites of all different body shapes meet at the restaurant for the first time and we all try to remember who said what about fat people?
    :)

  111. #111 bubbabubba666
    February 15, 2010

    @#94 John Noble said:

    “Fat people cause other people significant discomfort on aeroplanes and it’s their own fault because they eat too much and don’t exercise. Simple as that.”

    No, it’s not as simple as that. It’s only that simple because your philosophy of life is simple. Much like most religious people you start with a belief and then distort the evidence to fit your belief.

    Being fat, suffering from anxiety or depression; all such conditions have a number of causes. No one (at least no one intelligent) denies that free will is an important element in overcoming or managing such conditions, but clearly there are many other factors, both environmental and biological, that cause people to suffer from them, and make them incredibly difficult to overcome.

  112. #112 skeptical scientist
    February 15, 2010

    I have no problem with the policy of requiring large passengers to purchase an extra seat for the comfort of other passengers. That said, I’m also not about to get someone kicked off a flight because it will make my cramped airplane seat marginally less cramped for the next two or three hours. Clearly the passengers who would have shared Kevin Smith’s row agreed. So if they didn’t want him to be kicked off the plane, what right does the pilot or anyone else have to kick him off the plane “on their behalf”?

    There’s a difference between having a firmly established policy beforehand and requiring passengers to comply with it and pulling the rug out from someone after they have already boarded the plane and sat down. That’s just bullshit, and whoever made that decision is an ass.

  113. #113 alexrkr7
    February 15, 2010

    Ok so a lot of emotion here. Plane seats are too small, given. I’m 6’2″ (188cm) 185lbs. (84 kg) and a slender frame. Not too outside the average and I could do with a little room. But the plane (and company) cannot accommodate *every single person on the planet*.

    Extreme example would be to say that the seats need to accommodate a 600 lb. person. Should they? Really? I don’t know the figures but I’m sure someone that size is in the extremely low minority and a company cannot change everything for that small minority. I hope we’re all in agreement on that.

    The question is, where do we draw the line? How big is too big to reasonably ask for accommodations? I can’t really answer that but I doubt anyone else here can either.

    Second class citizen? No. Someone who needs to realize that they have a condition which limits their options. Whether their choice or not is irrelevant.

    My uninformed solution? A row (maybe two) with larger seats to accommodate, not a full plane overhaul. It could be phased in over time I’m sure and the ticket prices wouldn’t have to go up (which would be bad for everyone)

    Hope that seems reasonable enough! *Cringes as he waits for the most emotional of the bunch to eviscerate him*

  114. #114 Jadehawk, OM
    February 15, 2010

    But it is just not true that healthy food is more expensive, apart from things like berries maybe.

    bullshit. fatty meat is cheaper than lean meat; white rice is cheaper than brown rice, and generally all empty carbs are cheaper than everything else. A family-sized box of mac-n-cheese is cheaper than virtually anything with vegetables in it; ketchup is cheaper than veggies; tang is cheaper than orange juice; and muesli doesn’t come in jumbo-sized plastic bags, but crappy sugary cereal does.

  115. #115 frankosaurus
    February 15, 2010

    geez, kevin smith is rich enough that he can hire a trainer and get into shape fairly painlessly. I don’t know why he doesn’t, unless his weight fuels the disaffection of his film projects. But something like this could land him some good endorsements if he plays his cards right. “Remember me? I used to be so fat that I couldn’t even get on an airplane. But that’s when I started eating XYZ Co.’s Tuna Cakes, and look at me now. Yippy Skippy!!!!”

  116. #116 Jadehawk, OM
    February 15, 2010

    and then there’s the problem of never having a lot of money all at once, and thus literally having to feed yourself with $3-$4 a day, without the ability to buy in bulk. I’ve known people who lived on three 99cent burgers and a refillable soda a day because they could never get enough money together to go to the grocery store.

  117. #117 Kel, OM
    February 15, 2010

    But it is just not true that healthy food is more expensive, apart from things like berries maybe.

    even if the prices are comparable (I’d argue otherwise), it’s more than just the raw costs. Those foods that we shouldn’t eat too much of taste better, they are easier to cook with and they act as a form of stress release. I know for myself personally, when I’m stressed the last thing I think about is making a balanced healthy meal.

    Then there’s the negative feedback issue, where feeling bad about being overweight is exacerbated by the very foods that one can use to have an immediate release from those thoughts… but still, it’s easy enough to play “blame the victim” and then wonder why there are so many obese people or those with eating disorders.

  118. #118 Rorschach
    February 15, 2010

    generally all empty carbs are cheaper than everything else.

    And available in abundance and positioned prominently in every supermarket, too true.

    wrt the other things you mentioned, I can’t comment on american supermarkets, but it’s not as bad here in terms of price differences.

  119. #119 Henry
    February 15, 2010

    @103 Rorschach
    ” “Libertarian” just isn’t a phrase English people use.
    The british commenters here might want to disagree.”

    No, this British commenter agrees. Libertarian is a phrase that few British would understand, and only a minority would use. I only have a vague idea of what it means from reading this site. English and American-English can be two very different languages at times (words like liberal and social having apparently very different meanings over here for example).

  120. #120 Gyeong Hwa Pak, Pikachu para lang sa iyo.
    February 15, 2010

    I’ve known people who lived on three 99cent burgers and a refillable soda a day because they could never get enough money together to go to the grocery store.

    It is similar to situations with college students. Unhealthy food is so much more easy to obtain and they are more available. Like college students, lower income people have less time and more stress so they will get the quickest and cheapest things first from the nearest store. The cheapest things are often overflowing with unhealthiness.

  121. #121 Rorschach
    February 15, 2010

    Henry @ 119,

    I stand corrected then, thanks.I don’t really know, but assumed from the fact that one of the regulars here, a brit, has derailed many a thread over the years with his libertarian musings.

  122. #122 fiona.wallace.fiction
    February 15, 2010

    #110:

    I was going to organise an atheist singles night for the Friday or Sunday night of the conference. There are some great restaurants along the Yarra waterfront.

    Now I’ve realised how many people will despise me because my BMI is more than 28, I’m not so sure I want to. I certainly don’t want to spend an evening being judged for everything I put in my mouth.

    Oh, and John, the last time I went out running someone leaned out of a car and yelled ‘lay off the mars bars, you fat bint’. That was the last time I exercised in public.

  123. #123 Nick
    February 15, 2010

    Couple of things to say.

    1. Aircraft seats have not got narrower. The type of aircraft that Southwest use, the 737, has been in service since the mid 60s. It was designed to seat 6 abreast, and, to my knowledge, no airline has ever had less than 6 abreast seating in economy. It is not possible to fit 7 seats across in, so there is no point in making the seats narrower. All it would do is make the aisle wider, and that would serve no purpose, as galley equipment is a standard width. Yes, the space between the seats can be adjusted, and that does allow extra seats to be fitted, but the issue here is not leg space, but width.

    2. No body wants to be obese. And yet, we are told that more and more people are becoming obese. Clearly, avoiding obesity is not easy.

    3. No airline will ever stay in business by targeting certain passengers and subjecting them to villification. The conflicts that occur between airlines and their passengers are not down to a corporate policy of selective descrimination, but due to the fact that the airline business offers a service, and, not all potential customers can easily take advantage of that service. Obese passengers are not the only ones who have trouble fitting into an economy airline seat. Tall passengers, and passengers were certain disabilities, whether temporary or permanent, also have problems. What is different is that obese passengers are seen by some as being responsible for their plight, in a way that tall or disabled passengers aren’t, and so the issue gets clouded in judgements about the reasons for their obesity.

  124. #124 Kel, OM
    February 15, 2010

    With these lifestyle issues, how many people actually desire to be overweight or obese? very few I bet. That there are problems with obesity society-wide should really throw the question to how much we can possibly control. How much will does each individual have? How much control and focus do they have between short-term, medium-term and long-term goals? etc.

  125. #125 mistermuz
    February 15, 2010

    Jadehawk @114
    This is an interesting subject because I tend to side with the opposite view: eating halfway decent food is cheaper. But where I’ve had this chat before someone always says what you’re saying. It seems to depend a lot on where you live.
    Here in my bit of Australia, for not much more than the cost of those 3 burgers and crappy drink you can get 2kgs of flour, a bag of potatoes, a bag of oranges, assorted slightly dodgy old veges of all kinds. There’s usually some cheese and milk and so on going cheap, if you know where to go. And it’s usually places that aren’t terribly inconvenient. Despite all this, my south east asian friends still complained about the price of food here and told me about the wonders of the markets back home etc.
    Discussions like this (and ones with people who have been to the States and reported similar things) have given me the vague notion that there’s something terribly wrong with America’s food supply to much of the country. But I really don’t know much about it.

  126. #126 ilgreven
    February 15, 2010

    “Second class citizen? No. Someone who needs to realize that they have a condition which limits their options. Whether their choice or not is irrelevant.”

    …you realize that this line can be taken out of the context you’re using it and placed in the mouth of, say, a person attacking atheism and gay marriage…or a person protesting civil rights back in the ’60s?

    No, it is not “all right” if your side agrees to it. And, as you say, choice is irrelevant. If the argument wouldn’t fly if someone used it against you, it doesn’t fly here. Period.

  127. #127 skeptical scientist
    February 15, 2010

    I don’t really think it’s true that eating healthy is more expensive; what I think is true is that eating healthy requires some knowledge of how to cook. If you can cook, you can eat quite cheaply and healthily on things like veggie stir fry, but if you don’t know how to cook, and mostly make do on things like TV dinners, box mac and cheese, or worse, you will eat much less healthily.

  128. #128 Kel, OM
    February 15, 2010

    Wont that be awkward when Pharyngulites of all different body shapes meet at the restaurant for the first time and we all try to remember who said what about fat people?

    That’s the great thing about being offline, the semi-anonymity is gone. In the interests of keeping peace and fearing social rebuke, people keep their mouths shut.

  129. #129 cheerful-snack
    February 15, 2010

    I honestly don’t care. SW seats are cheap and I’ll continue to fly the friendly skies on said airline.

  130. #130 tamakazura
    February 15, 2010

    You know what pisses me off and makes my flight uncomfortable far more than fat people? People with babies. I swear to god, they don’t fly international flights unless they book at least one colicky baby in economy. It’s like they want to encourage you to get first class tickets so you can sleep. Yeah, yeah. I know some parents are embarrassed by this, but for domestic flights did they ever consider driving?
    I didn’t fly until I was six. And even then my mom brought lots of entertainment. We went across the lower 48 on vacation when I was 2, and my parents stuck me in the carseat and we DROVE. Baby did not have popping ears, baby did not have to live with nasty smells, baby got to listen to Yes all the way, and baby didn’t even make her parents homicidal. I have NO sympathy for people who take their infant on a 1 hour flight to see grandma when they could drive in 3 hours, and then get all embarrassed when their baby throws a hissyfit.
    How ’bout we kick them off planes? Oh, that’s right. Because we have a cult of parenthood in this country, so everyone just has to sit in their seats and have guilty about throttling the parents.
    I’d MUCH rather sit next to a fat person.

  131. #131 tamakazura
    February 15, 2010

    excuse me. People sit in the seats and have guilty fantasies about throttling the parents.

  132. #132 Pygmy Loris
    February 15, 2010

    a lot of men seem to suffer from what has been called enormous phantom schlong syndrome

    ROTFL!

  133. #133 Josh, Official SpokesGay
    February 15, 2010

    Oh, that’s right. Because we have a cult of parenthood in this country,

    I know that’s right, tamakazura! We’re all supposed to fall out of our chairs, totally impressed that the pair-bond sitting in front of us managed to reproduce for the 6 billionth time in human history. I don’t feel at all guilty about fantasizing about throttling those parents. I don’t like them, and I don’t like their issue.

  134. #134 speedweasel
    February 15, 2010

    Wont that be awkward when Pharyngulites of all different body shapes meet at the restaurant for the first time and we all try to remember who said what about fat people?

    That’s the great thing about being offline, the semi-anonymity is gone. In the interests of keeping peace and fearing social rebuke, people keep their mouths shut.

    True, but I like to think empathy comes into play as well. It’s easy to trade in the simplest terms and most convenient definitions and when addressing people online. It’s harder to look at someone across a table and still be a bastard when you can see the hurt you cause, up close.

    I don’t know whether that makes people compassionate or cowards but people *do* tend to get along better in meatspace.

  135. #135 Kel, OM
    February 15, 2010

    True, but I like to think empathy comes into play as well.

    Yeah, me too.

  136. #136 owenevans00
    February 15, 2010

    @Speedweasel – cowards. And to those of you who are going off about parents, I damn well hope you’re being satirical.

  137. #137 Rorschach
    February 15, 2010

    It’s harder to look at someone across a table and still be a bastard when you can see the hurt you cause, up close.

    But size/color/gender/sexual preference etc are not important when you sit down at a table with someone ! Some of those things might influence your choice if it came to partner selection or something, but just for a chat and a beer ? I don’t care if someone is 300 kilos if they can hold a good conversation and help me have a good time in a bar.So why would you be causing any hurt?

  138. #138 speedweasel
    February 15, 2010

    We’re all supposed to fall out of our chairs, totally impressed that the pair-bond sitting in front of us managed to reproduce for the 6 billionth time in human history. I don’t feel at all guilty about fantasizing about throttling those parents. I don’t like them, and I don’t like their issue.

    Whats the matter Josh? Breeders getting you down?

    Dont worry mate, just heap your baggage on the table and I’m sure someone will mistake it for an argument.

    BTW, I have two girls, both have flown and neither has cried aboard an aircraft. Just thought I should declare my competing interests :)

  139. #139 Rorschach
    February 15, 2010

    And to those of you who are going off about parents, I damn well hope you’re being satirical.

    I’m afraid they mightn’t have been….Some of the dumbest stuff I have read here.

  140. #140 tamakazura
    February 15, 2010

    No. If I said “I think we should feed the babies to the fat people” I would be being satirical. I don’t have anything against the baby itself. It can’t help it. A good many times, mom and dad can and don’t.
    Have grandma come to you. Drive to see grandma. Go on car vacations or camping when you have a young child.
    Sometimes it’s inevitable that you’re going to have to fly with the baby, but most of the time you can find some other way. There are also, beleive it or not, parents who can manage to keep a baby quiet through a domestic flight. I wonder how they do it?
    The thing is, it IS inconsiderate to take your child into a public place like an airplane (or a restaurant or a movie-theater, etc) when you know you can’t entertain it or satisfy it enough to keep it quiet, and when you know that its discomfort is going to cause it to cry.
    Parents tend to think that their child is as special to others as it is to them and that people are wrong to feel anything but sympathy or understanding towards them when their baby cries. People are expected to accomodate and like it.
    Sorry, but to me your kids’ screaming on the plane sounds about the same as a fire-alarm that can’t be turned off.

  141. #141 Koldito
    February 15, 2010

    Kevin Smith, please stop being obnoxious. You are too fat to fit into a single seat, no matter how much you want to delude yourself. I only weight 150 pounds, which I’d happily bet a big glass of tasty Belgian beer that is at least 100 pounds less than you do, and I usually only have barely a 3-inch clearance on either side of my ass. You can’t fit someone who is almost twice as big as me in a space that just me occupies to 80% capacity.

  142. #142 WowbaggerOM
    February 15, 2010

    Bill Hicks on children:

    I am going nowhere, and nowhere quick, but, those of you who have children, I am sorry to tell you this, but they are not special. Wait! I know some of you are going “what, what?” Let me just clarify: I know YOU think they’re special … ha ha ha! I’m aware of that. I’m just here to tell you, that they’re NOT! Ha ha ha ha! Sorry.

  143. #143 Rorschach
    February 15, 2010

    sociopath @ 140,

    Sorry, but to me your kids’ screaming on the plane sounds about the same as a fire-alarm that can’t be turned off.

    It’s because babies cry at around 3000 Hz, which is a frequency your ear is particularly sensitive to.Not really the baby’s fault, is it.

    *Ponders whether to point out to sociopath that babies and toddlers

    1.go through a period of stranger anxiety, which might become an issue in a confined space surrounded by 250 strangers

    2.are until a certain age mouth breathers and cannot, like sociopaths, chew gum to clear the pressure from their ears, which causes them pain and makes them cry.

    3.need to sleep at certain times which in a noisy aircraft full of strangers might be difficult

    …but decides against it because if this has to be pointed out to anybody it’s probably too late anyway*

  144. #144 owenevans00
    February 15, 2010

    You think parents inflict their kids on you on purpose? Pull your head out of your entitled ass.

    And the parents who are all “Oh, little darling Johnny can do no wrong” and give those of us who try to be competent a bad name? You can line up behind me to beat on them, thank you very much. My family and I fly transatlantic a couple of times a year, and we know how to keep the kids quiet – or preferably, asleep.

  145. #145 Miki Z
    February 15, 2010

    I have no problem with babies on flights, even crying babies. I do have a problem with parents who do nothing to calm or comfort them. It’s not that the noise bothers me — I wear earplugs when I fly, as someone else recommended above — it’s that it’s just so callous of the parent. Your kid is in distress: tend to them.

    When my brother’s oldest daughter, now in high school, was about two my brother, his wife, and their daughter came to visit us on vacation. Every night, my niece would wake up screaming and crying for her parents, because they had decided she should sleep on the other side of the house. Every night, I had to go tell my brother to come and get his daughter. He heard her, he just didn’t care. “She’ll cry herself to sleep. It usually only takes an hour or two.” Really? Is it that hard to be a decent parent?

    Even so, physical characteristics of my fellow passengers don’t disturb me nearly as much as their mouths. One guy spent the entire flight from the U.S. to Japan telling me how he was structuring his internet hosting business to be sure that the child pornography companies were hosted in countries where that was legal but that other pornography sites were hosted where connections were cheap. Give me a 600 pound mother holding a screaming crying projectile vomiting baby as a seat neighbor any day.

  146. #146 Pygmy Loris
    February 15, 2010

    Rorschach,

    Whereas I do sympathize with your points at 143, there are a few bad parents who will sit in a movie theater or restaurant with a screaming infant or child while essentially ignoring it. Most parents will take the child/infant outside to try to quiet it down, but the few bad parents who don’t give all of the others a bad name. An airplane is, of course, a different story. There’s no where to take the screaming infant/child, so most parents do the best they can. Most of us who are childfree try to be understanding.

    I try to be understanding with infants and small children. It’s the parents of tweens that bug the crap out of me. If you can’t keep your 10 yr old child from kicking the back of my seat, maybe you should rethink your discipline technique.

  147. #147 IAmMarauder
    February 15, 2010

    Yeah, being thin is so easy. Diets work, which is why Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers are banned from advertising that they can “Help you lose weight and keep it off”. Why? Because no diet has ever been proven that it can work long term – long term being 5 years. None, not one. They work short term – over a year or two, maybe three. But after that the weight usually comes back, and usually with interest.

    Oh, and then there is the medication part mentioned above – some medications cause weight gain. Not to mention that some of the illnesses cause the same effect, but it not the major symptom.

    And the genetics – such a pain. Some people luck out, some get the shaft. Some people cannot help being overweight thanks to genetics.

    Then there is the fact that overweight people cannot exercise in public – as displayed in one of the posts above. Oh yeah – people can buy equipment and exercise home. How many can afford that?

    Am I overweight? Yeah, I am. I got stuck with all of the above matters. I am actually thinner than most of my immediate family (counting aunties, uncles and first cousins as immediate). I have the issues with mental stability, and the meds don’t help. Exercising isn’t fun, and the other thing is due to mental issues I cannot force myself to do it. Tried dieting – suffered the 2 year loss then the slow growth.

    Now, here is something else of interest in regards to the “overweight people are unhealthier”: Many studies have been done, and actually show obese people can actually be a lot healthier than those of a normal BMI, and actually suffer less from stroke/heart issues. They don’t get reported in the media, or when they are the facts are twisted out of context.

    To John and the others like him: Congratulations on being thin! You won the jackpot! Well done. Now fuck off and don’t tell me how to live my life.

  148. #148 Rorschach
    February 15, 2010

    Many studies have been done, and actually show obese people can actually be a lot healthier than those of a normal BMI, and actually suffer less from stroke/heart issues

    [Citation badly needed]

    there are a few bad parents who will sit in a movie theater or restaurant with a screaming infant or child while essentially ignoring it.

    I agree, there are some pretty helpless/hapless parents out there, I deal with them every day at work.
    *So your child has a fever, why are you bothering a Hospital emergency doctor?*

    But good or bad parents, kids will cry when they’re unhappy or need something, and it just so happens that on planes those situations might happen more often then on the playground or in a restaurant.

  149. #149 boygenius
    February 15, 2010

    Josh, Official SpokesGay on The Thread:

    I do so hate children. I would eat them, but they taste nasty, and they leave gristle in your teeth.

    This. :-)

  150. #150 Pygmy Loris
    February 15, 2010

    All you have to do is look at the statistics. Fewer that 2% of fat people who lose weight keep it off long term. It is much harder to live your whole life hungry than the naturally thin realise. If you think it’s so easy try it.

    I’m thin (short too) and I understand that losing weight isn’t easy and that body type has a large genetic component. I just wish some of my friends understood that I don’t have a secret formula.

    Can we all just agree that flying in coach on an airplane is universally unpleasant? I’m 5’3″ and 105 lbs. No one in their right mind would think I’m a big person in any way, but even I’m horribly uncomfortable on planes. I get cramps in my legs and arms from having them in one position too long, my neck hurts because whoever designed those seats must not have the same spinal curvature as the rest of us, and I always have someone with halitosis and a gregarious personality sitting next to me. Give me Amtrak anyday!

  151. #151 IAmMarauder
    February 15, 2010
    Many studies have been done, and actually show obese people can actually be a lot healthier than those of a normal BMI, and actually suffer less from stroke/heart issues

    [Citation badly needed]

    http://www.junkfoodscience.blogspot.com/ is a good source of information. It is a single source, however all studies are cited and quoted, and clearly explained.

    This particular page: http://junkfoodscience.blogspot.com/2008/04/obesity-paradox-15-no-need-to-stroke.html : actually addresses a study on obesity and strokes.

  152. #152 Andreas Johansson
    February 15, 2010

    Fiona wrote:

    Speaking as an ex-fattie (previously 110kg or about 260lbs and 5′ 6″), who now lives on less than 1000 calories a day to maintain my 75kgs

    I find that difficult to believe. A woman your height and weight should have a basal metabolic rate (ie. energy consumption in the absence of any physical activity at all) of well over 1000 kcal/day at any age.

    On-topic, I’m all for making fat people buy two seats (and tall people fly business class), but Southwest’s handling of Kevin’s case seems cackhanded.

  153. #153 Rorschach
    February 15, 2010

    From marauder’s link :

    Most heart disease occurs in healthy people without traditional risk factors and who aren?t considered to be at risk.

    This has to be one of the most stupid things I have ever read.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10938172?dopt=Abstract

    Framingham Study

  154. #154 Andreas Johansson
    February 15, 2010

    IAmMarauder wrote:

    Oh yeah – people can buy equipment and exercise home. How many can afford that?

    Unaccountably, I appear to be able to exercise without equipment.

  155. #155 Tronzu
    February 15, 2010

    I’m on the side of Southwest Airlines here, it’s time these fatasses are made to pay for their sick disgusting indulgences that affect other people.

  156. #156 WowbaggerOM
    February 15, 2010

    Tronzu wrote:

    I’m on the side of Southwest Airlines here, it’s time these fatasses are made to pay for their sick disgusting indulgences that affect other people.

    Go fuck yourself with a mophandle, you clueless shitstain.

  157. #157 badgersdaughter
    February 15, 2010

    I have some health issues that made me gain weight. The surgery for my kidney made it hard to move normally for several months. Polycystic ovarian syndrome (this is rather common, by the way) messed up my metabolism. I was a strict vegetarian and watched what I ate the whole time

    I lost fifty (that’s FIFTY) pounds last year through diet and exercise. I had to switch to a particularly severe low-carb, low-fat diet to address my blood sugar issues (which is basically impossible to do as a vegetarian, so I hate eating every day). Fortunately I have managed to avoid having to inject insulin.

    I happen to look younger than my age and I know how to dress and use makeup. People really like me when they make the slightest attempt to get to know me (and it took me a long, long time to get where I could say this). I fit in an airplane seat, by the way, and I also did when I was heavier.

    But anyone out there who looks at me is still likely to think that I’m lazy, creepy, and overindulgent. Boy, if any of those people had to treat their body like a deadly enemy the way I have to do just to stay alive, they wouldn’t have the time or energy to make crass comments about people like me.

  158. #158 Knockgoats
    February 15, 2010

    I read the whole story, and while I have some sympathy for him, I can never get over thinking how very FRAGILE the airline industry is. All it would take is a couple of really good terrorist scares, soaring fuel prices, or Bush-type control Nazis, and bye-bye airlines. – Hank Fox

    Which would be an excellent outcome. Flying should be for emergencies, and should be very expensive, to reflect its huge environmental costs.

  159. #159 Rorschach
    February 15, 2010

    Flying should be for emergencies, and should be very expensive, to reflect its huge environmental costs.

    This seems to one of those threads where we discuss USA-specific issues with a global audience, in parts.Like, in Europe you just take the train from Cologne to Paris or London to Brussels and it takes you like 2 hours or something, no need to fly at all.
    I am entertaining the thought however, when I fly to Europe this summer, to go business class, not to avoid crying children or overweight passengers, but to get some sleep in on those folding beds !

  160. #160 WowbaggerOM
    February 15, 2010

    Knockgoats wrote:

    Which would be an excellent outcome. Flying should be for emergencies, and should be very expensive, to reflect its huge environmental costs.

    That’s a point – but my country (Australia) can fit yours (the UK, IIRC?) into it something like 25 times over; places we sometimes need to get to are just a little bit farther away from each other down here…

    However, I don’t fly very often – once or twice a year, tops.

  161. #161 Walton
    February 15, 2010

    I just want to say that, regardless of the actual content, the title of this blog post is absolutely awesome. That is all.

  162. #162 csrster
    February 15, 2010

    Yesterday I coined the word “goysplaining”. Today I’m going for “thinsplaining”. I think I’m on a roll.

  163. #163 Binsearch
    February 15, 2010

    John Noble’s comments are spot on. The aggression directed towards him from people like “wowbagger” is inappropriate.

  164. #164 Rorschach
    February 15, 2010

    Binsearch,

    you are confusing “aggression” with “arguments”. It’s not so uncommon.

    John Noble’s comments are spot on.

    Helps if you’re a sociopath.

  165. #165 Walton
    February 15, 2010

    Re obesity, I think we need to take a balanced view here.

    Is obesity “OK” or “harmless”? No. It’s a real problem and causes serious health risks.

    That said, it’s rather unfair and simplistic to allege that it’s always an individual’s “fault” that he or she is obese. There are a range of causes of obesity, both physical and mental. Some people have metabolic disorders that cause them to put on weight; at times, this can be a side effect of other medical treatments. There are also people who overeat as a symptom of depression or other mental health issues. And there are social and economic causes of obesity too: junk food is everywhere in our society and is easily and cheaply available, and combined with our highly pressured and competitive pace of life, it’s not surprising that a lot of people end up eating a poor diet. So it’s not fair to a person adversely just because he or she is overweight, without knowing the causes of his or her condition.

  166. #166 Walton
    February 15, 2010

    @#165: “So it’s not fair to a person adversely…” should, of course, read “So it’s not fair to judge a person adversely…”

  167. #167 Cheerios623
    February 15, 2010

    I’m thin as a cornstalk, but that’s not my problem. My problem is that I’m clinically introverted, especially around strangers. Although I’m not autistic, but my reaction to strangers is similar.

    The point is that I hate flying because of it. The only thing worse for me than being surrounded by absolute strangers in a confined area is when the people surrounding me are veritable giants and take up the very last dregs of my personal space. Having to be in physical contact with an absolute stranger for the duration of a flight is my nightmare-on-earth. Imagine being terrified of spiders and having to watch, wide-eyed and paralyzed, as tarantulas crawl all over your skin and body.

    Do I hate fat people? Of course not. But my stomach twists into knots when I find myself sitting next to them on airplanes. Let’s face it: Hell is other people. Nobody likes flying. We endure the experience because as long as we have a little space to wiggle in, we have some dignity left. So we pay for the space we occupy, and then we pay for a little wiggle room. I feel that it is a reasonable policy to ask each person to pay for the space they occupy.

    On the subject of fat people: I know some people can’t help it. I also know that many people can help it with a little diet and exercise. But it doesn’t matter why someone is fat. The fact is that we all have problems, and we all do what is necessary to deal with those problems in a way that doesn’t disrupt general society. For me that means that I visit a psychiatrist and I fight my hardest not to scream when I’m forced into close contact with many strangers. For someone overweight that might mean they pay for an extra occasional ticket and maybe they force themselves to lose weight.

    We all have problems, and that’s natural. We all should do our best to keep our problems out of the way of others. So it most certainly offends me when someone overweight is so assured of themselves that they don’t treat their issue as a problem, but rather expect society to accommodate them.

  168. #168 la tricoteuse
    February 15, 2010

    Yikes. There’s an awful lot of callousness and bile coming from the “anti-fatty” (for lack of a pithier term) side, which has understandably raised some hackles.

    Clearly, this is not a black and white issue. Some people do have disorders which make it difficult, if not impossible, for them to lose weight or avoid gaining weight. In cases where that is not true, there is the added factor of the cost and availability of healthy food. I don’t share the experience of healthy food being more expensive, but nor have I lived everywhere in the US or the world, so I can only account for a limited number of markets. The same can be said of everyone else, obviously, so none of us is a global expert on food. These are grey areas, without easy solutions, and casting stones here (or anywhere else, for that matter) helps no one.

    The part where I get lost is where people start saying it’s not a person’s fault if he PREFERS less healthy food or can’t be bothered to cook and eat better, and doesn’t ENJOY exercising. “I like pizza better than salad therefore it is not my fault if I gain weight,” and “I like watching tv better than exercising therefore it is not my fault if I gain weight” are non-arguments which only serve to belittle the difficulties of people who really DO have serious metabolic disorders or disabilities or similar ( on the other hand, “crash dieting caused my disorder” sounds a lot like “I drank too much and fucked my liver up but TOTALLY NOT MY FAULT” to me, so I fail to see how that absolves a person of responsibility) which cause them to have major weight problems that are not easily fixed by eating more salads. Also, psychological disorders which make it much harder to get yourself to do anything are a different issue, and I am by no means including them in the “but I don’t wannnnaaaaa” example.

    All of the above aside, I would like to find more information or a study examining why this phenomenon is not so prevalent in much of Europe (or, as I understand it, much of the rest of the world though I have no experience outside of Europe and NA, so that’s just a conclusion I’ve come to from reading comments, and even my experience in NA and Europe is primarily based on anecdotal evidence, namely my own observation. So I’m claiming no expertise whatsoever, obviously).

  169. #169 Knockgoats
    February 15, 2010

    That’s a point – but my country (Australia) can fit yours (the UK, IIRC?) into it something like 25 times over; places we sometimes need to get to are just a little bit farther away from each other down here… – Wowbagger,OM

    Well, flying can occasionally be really necessary, but there’s different definitions of “need”. I haven’t flown other than for work since 1992. For work, I do quite a lot of travel in Europe, and if I can get to my destination in two days without flying, I do (and am fortunate to have an employer who allows this; as far as possible I use my own time and don’t charge for it). Last year I did a tour involving destinations in Netherlands, Germany, Hungary and the Czech Republic by ferry and train. If flying was much more expensive, employers would look for options that don’t involve travel, and both teleconferencing technology and surface transport would benefit. So I say again – make the cost of flying include the damage it does.

  170. #170 ianmhor
    February 15, 2010

    Walton #165:
    It is right that we should take care in not judging too quickly and there are a proportion (I believe fairly small) where the reason for obesity is fundamentally a consequence of an underlying medical condition. For most, however, it is a simple matter of eating more than they need.

    The problem is that is an insidious process as on any particular day you are little heavier than you were yesterday or last week and the drift to higher weight doesn’t get to some people’s conscious concern until the loosing of the weight and the changing of eating habits becomes really hard.

    I don’t know an answer to this other that education at as young an age as possible.

    Have to agree with Knockgoats, #158, that any reason to reduce air travel is a good one but easy for us living in as small country to say. IMO we need simply to travel a lot less. It is another bad habit that we have got into that we need to wean ourselves off.

  171. #171 la tricoteuse
    February 15, 2010

    p.s. More on topic: I side completely with Kevin Smith on this issue, and contrary to some arguments made in favor of the airline on this, I find air travel in, to, and from North America to be prohibitively expensive without good reason since it is clearly possible for it to be cheaper (See: Europe). That said, airlines everywhere are bastards to some extent, and Ryanair seems to have ruined air travel for everyone by inspiring other airlines to cut the services they provide (no more free meals on any but the longest flights? No more free drink services with peanuts or pretzels? No more free hotel room if you miss a connection because the plane was delayed?) without really lowering their prices.

  172. #172 Rorschach
    February 15, 2010

    Let’s face it: Hell is other people.

    *clenched Sartre salute*

  173. #173 nigelTheBold
    February 15, 2010

    Kevin Smith, please stop being obnoxious. You are too fat to fit into a single seat, no matter how much you want to delude yourself. I only weight 150 pounds, which I’d happily bet a big glass of tasty Belgian beer that is at least 100 pounds less than you do, and I usually only have barely a 3-inch clearance on either side of my ass.

    It sounds like the seats are too small, not that Mr. Smith is too big.

    It isn’t Kevin Smith who doesn’t give a rat’s ass about your comfort. It’s the airlines. The seats keep getting smaller, and the service keeps getting worse.

    Y’know who I hate more than the big guys sitting on either side of me? The people who have to take out their damned 17″ laptop and boot up fucking MS-Windows to play Solitaire, or to work on a fake spreadsheet so it seems as if they’re important or something. I hate the obnoxious pricks who have to invade my side of the seat with their elbows, not because they’re big, but because they’re playing some kind of dominance game.

    The big folks can’t help it. (Yeah, I’ve heard your pathetic arguments about them exercising and whatnot. Many of them simply can’t help it — I’m married to a large woman with thyroid issues who exercises.) They are probably just as uncomfortable as I am. I doubt they’re any happier being packed in like children at a Nike factory.

    And honestly, Kevin Smith is not that big.

  174. #174 mfd512
    February 15, 2010

    Why doesnt Southwest, and the other airlines for that matter, simply post their policy up front, “If you weigh more than xxx pounds you will have to pay for 2 tickets”

  175. #175 Kel, OM
    February 15, 2010

    The part where I get lost is where people start saying it’s not a person’s fault if he PREFERS less healthy food or can’t be bothered to cook and eat better, and doesn’t ENJOY exercising.

    I think you’re taking this too black white. That we prefer to sit on our arses or eat sugar-rich foods is not really saying anything, it’s not like someone’s looking at the mars bar and the apple and choosing mars bar out of preference. Pure free will? Maybe. Just remember that you can wire a rat’s brain so that it would choose to press a button and give itself pleasure than feed itself.

  176. #176 locka99
    February 15, 2010

    Hmm, Kevin Smith looks fat to me. Perhaps he’s a borderline case for their seating criteria but he’s still fat.

    I also don’t see why airlines shouldn’t discriminate. Space and weight are at a premium. It clearly costs the airline (and by extension) other passengers more money to fly someone who is obese.

    So I think they should be within their rights to deny someone carriage or force them to pay for two tickets if they can’t fit into a seat.

  177. #177 Knockgoats
    February 15, 2010

    Like, in Europe you just take the train from Cologne to Paris or London to Brussels and it takes you like 2 hours or something, no need to fly at all. – Rorschach

    From where I live, it’s a 7 hour train journey to London (and of course, 7 hours back). I’d say I make that journey around once every two months, for business or pleasure.

  178. #178 Kel, OM
    February 15, 2010

    My Dad does cleaning in offices, and often he finds whole fruit still good that’s thrown away alongside empty wrappers of chips and chocolates. To me that says two things: firstly that they are trying to make an effort, and secondly that it’s more than just preference at play here.

  179. #179 la tricoteuse
    February 15, 2010

    Who’s wiring our brains? And are we mere rats, or can we assume we’ve got slightly higher levels of conscious choice at our disposal than that?

    I’m not even saying everyone should always choose the apple over the mars bar. Last night I chose pizza instead of something better, but it WAS my choice and I’m totally going to pay for it by putting back some of the weight I’ve lost. I’m not happy about it, but I can’t see the logic in claiming it’s not my responsibility.

    I’m certainly not saying that even the people who ARE overweight or obese through their own actions deserve to be treated badly. No one does. But in cases where that IS the cause (and that knowledge is most probably between that person and his/her doctor), however rare or common it may be, I can’t see the validity of denying responsibility, at least to oneself.

  180. #180 vanharris
    February 15, 2010

    How can we be sure that the guy in the photo is someone named Kevin Smith?

    He looks to me a heck of a lot like PZ! With all that recent Irish hospitality & draft Guinness, it’s possible.

  181. #181 Carlie
    February 15, 2010

    I stepped away from this post because I was worried about what the comments would turn into, but I’m incredibly heartened by the overall tone and number of people taking the high road.

    Just a couple of points, because I don’t have the energy for more:

    1. There’s an underlying assumption for a lot of people that fat people simply don’t understand that they’re fat and that that’s bad, so measures like this are needed to force them into taking all the steps needed to get thin. Trust me, fat people are aware that they’re fat and that society hates them for it. If you think that the problem is that somehow that message hasn’t gone through enough, that fat people just aren’t stigmatized enough already…oy. There’s not much place to start with that, but the comment above indicating that if there’s one thing that people love to make fun of more than a fat person it’s a fat person exercising, might give you a little insight.

    2. I don’t mind the comments about children and flying, because I’m seeing those as being used as analagous to the complaints about sitting next to teh fatz. Is it objectively uncomfortable to have to sit next to a screaming baby? Yes. Is it then justifiable to say that babies should never be taken out in public? No, because we’re part of this thing called humanity and understand that the only way to never be bothered by other people is to be a hermit and never go outside. Same with the fat people. Sometimes you end up sitting next to the fat. This might be physically uncomfortable for you. Guess what? It’s probably uncomfortable for them too, even more so – it’s not like the fat has no nerve endings, so they’re physically uncomfortable too, plus they get to have the exquisite socially humiliating feeling of being the one who is causing the problem on top of it, exacerbated by the rude stares you’re giving them the whole time. But just like with the screaming children, the solution isn’t to lock up everyone who offends you in any way, but for you to understand that we all have something that other people probably don’t like seeing up close and personal, so we’re all in the same boat.

    3. Pretty much everything Josh said.

  182. #182 Andreas Johansson
    February 15, 2010

    Kel wrote:

    That we prefer to sit on our arses or eat sugar-rich foods is not really saying anything, it’s not like someone’s looking at the mars bar and the apple and choosing mars bar out of preference.

    Huh? If you substitute the mars bar for various other brads of chocolate, I’m pretty sure I’ve done precisely that often enough.

  183. #183 karinvermooten
    February 15, 2010

    I hate travelling and the man (it is always a man) next to you hoggs the arm rest, I hate it when the person in front of me puts his chair back during a day flight, I hate having a person with broad shoulders next to me, I feel like I have to be the leaning tower of Pisa the whole flight. I hate it that most airlines think the average passenger is 5 foot max (5’10” with long legs….), I hate the fact that airlines have used the smoking ban to reduce the airconditioning to a point that people get trombosis from it…

    Overweight people do not always eat too much some are suffering from an illness that makes them overweight…

    Maybe the airlines should give a halfway option, like pay 50 dollars for extra legroom, and 50 for extra width.
    If an overweight passenger comes in (one that doesn’t fit in a chair) without paying more in advance he/she has to pay for an extra seat.
    Doesn’t that sound a bit better?? People with personal space issues can book extra room too

  184. #184 Carlie
    February 15, 2010

    This article is really interesting. The author goes through the changes in seat sizing in airplanes, discusses findings on what affects passengers’ perceptions of space and comfort, and also compares different types of seating in different environments.

  185. #185 Miki Z
    February 15, 2010

    Why doesnt Southwest, and the other airlines for that matter, simply post their policy up front, “If you weigh more than xxx pounds you will have to pay for 2 tickets”

    It’s not that simple, if the issue is the comfort of other passengers and safety because of size. I am not tall, but at 10% body fat, I weighed just over 100 kilos. Tack on 20 kilos from when I started taking anti-seizure medicines, and it’s OMG he’s a fattie! My resting heart rate is 50 bpm. My BP is 100/60. I can bicycle 30 km without difficulty and walk 15 km without exhaustion. I fit into airline seats without difficulty; I also fly with my family, so with rare exception I’m sitting next to them and not a stranger.

    If it’s about size for the comfort and safety of others, make that the standard. If it’s about weight for fuel efficiency, make that the standard. They’re not the same thing.

    Southwest doesn’t have a stellar history in the first place. This is the company behind Wilson v. Southwest Airlines, where they argued that it was a business necessity to hire only women as flight attendants and counter agents because people were paying for “love in the skies”.

  186. #186 EastexSteve
    February 15, 2010

    This is really breaks down to did the airline follow their own stated procedure. SWA claims that the armrests are used. If a passenger fits between the armrests without encroaching on the seat next to them they are not required to purchase an additional seat. Smith claims he fit between the armrests, if that’s true the airline was wrong, they violated their own procedure. If he didn’t fit, they were correct in following their stated procedure.

  187. #187 Blind Squirrel FCD
    February 15, 2010

    enormous phantom schlong syndrome

    What do you mean “phantom”?

    BS

  188. #188 rufus_t
    February 15, 2010

    Well, all in all I won’t be using SWA anytime soon, being obese and all. Although my main problem wouldn’t be not being able to lower the armrests, most of my “excess” weight is made up of my very large thigh muscles and my child-bearing shoulders.

    Presumably as going by my previous experience of flying cattle-truck class, I won’t be able to use the fold-down table properly and if I get an aisle seat I’d be in danger of acting as a high impact braking system for the trolly, but the armrests would go down. So I’d be OK…

  189. #189 mo
    February 15, 2010

    Silent Bob can rant for 1.5 hours?

    .__.

  190. #190 https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawnCRHK7ZbHNCuE3_-Y_Sbh6pjbo8Hd0Sgc
    February 15, 2010

    Let’s have a poll!

  191. #191 vanharris
    February 15, 2010

    OT

    Some religionists took a swipe at rationalism, after the Alabama multiple shootings by the neuroscientist, Amy Bishop. (That?s what belief in evolution leads to, they claimed.) It now turns out she has a husband who is a churchgoer. I wonder if she is?

    ?Standing at his door after church on Sunday, Mr. Anderson confirmed the existence of the novel reported in The Globe, as well as two others his wife worked on in her spare time. ?

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/15/us/15alabama.html?th&emc=th

  192. #192 Mike
    February 15, 2010

    Never heard of the guy.

  193. #193 Cruithne
    February 15, 2010

    “Libertarian” just isn’t a phrase English people use.
    The british commenters here might want to disagree.”

    Well I’m not English but I am British and I use the word libertarian when I’m describing myself.

    As for the thread, te tared on display from the body fascists like John Noble have convinced me that we need to make accommodation for all the different shapes and sizes we come in.
    What an asshole that guy is.

  194. #194 Nice Ogress
    February 15, 2010

    Southwest’s policy is not enforced equitably or regularly. To their credit, they DO state it up front (in the fine print) but then they only enforce it sporadically. Big, scary men who look like they might hurt you? Pass. Professional bodybuilders and athletes? Pass. Overweight mom with three screechy kids and a linebacker husband? Pass. Man in an expensively tailored suit who is talking about all his business prospects on the phone and can’t possibly be bothered with minor details? Pass.

    You? You get to buy another seat. Surprise!

    I say ‘to their credit’ but sadly even that is calculated from a marketing standpoint. Southwest is banking on the fact that once word gets around about their ‘zero-fattie-tolerance’ stance, more people will WANT to buy tickets on their airline, so they won’t have to fly with fat people on the plane. They are, literally, planning on taking your bigotry to the bank.

    Lastly, as Kevin Smith has pointed out – they’re perfectly happy to take people’s money EVEN THOUGH someone else has already accomodated them for that ‘extra seat’. That’s a 100% predatory business model. It’s not based on comfort, or any untilitarian concern for their planes. It’s based on preying on the disadvantaged. People with a poor body image – and women in particular – are VERY vulnerable to social pressure. they cave easily. They crumple under threats of embarrassment. They’re the ideal mark for this kind of predation.

    I already knew about Southwest’s policy. It’s why I fly United.

  195. #195 Carlie
    February 15, 2010

    I already knew about Southwest’s policy. It’s why I fly United.

    I hate to burst your bubble, Nice Ogress…

  196. #196 Cruithne
    February 15, 2010

    Who would you rather find yourself seated to on a plane?

    Someone as engaging and witty as Kevin Smith or a miserable bastard who makes judgments on people based upon their looks?

  197. #197 Nice Ogress
    February 15, 2010

    @Carlie, #195:

    …Oh. That’s REALLY depressing. I liked them. Oh well.

  198. #198 Walton
    February 15, 2010

    “Libertarian” just isn’t a phrase English people use.

    I can personally attest that this is entirely untrue. There’s an active Libertarian Society at my university, and I know many people who identify actively as libertarians. We don’t have a mainstream libertarian party in the UK (there is a UK Libertarian Party, but it’s very small and espouses very extreme policies), but libertarians can be found within several major political parties.

  199. #199 PZ Myers
    February 15, 2010

    Heh, yeah. If I saw Kevin Smith getting on the plane, I’d be be hoping he was going to get the seat next to mine.

    Hey, I’m flying to Australia next month, which will be a very long flight…I wonder if Smith would like to keep me company? It would make the whole trip zip by.

    Oh, and Koldito: think about the math. Mass increases as the cube of the linear dimensions. If you weigh 150 pounds and take up 80% of the space (which is unlikely), somebody who weighs 260 pounds would fill 100% of the space.

  200. #200 justlurkin
    February 15, 2010

    Does anybody think Smith’s stunt is gonna make a difference? Please….

    I, everyday dumbass, will take cheapest ticket on worst airline (on time, safety, comfort, service, etc.) for $100, Alex!

  201. #201 Antiochus Epiphanes
    February 15, 2010

    PZ Myers is like POW! with that JBS Haldane-type mass/volume ratio. Get me some Haldane up in here(! *raises the roof*)

    I think the big problem here isn’t the obese, or the biologically fit, or the chronically halitotic, or celluphonic, or acne-scarred, the hideously ugly, the dumb and talkative, or [class of person whom you'd rather not sit next to on a plane]. The problem is that self-important assholes will do whatever they need to at the expense of a stranger to get a little extra comfort. The next time I am on a plane, I hope that my destination will be simultaneously sponsoring the beer/burger festival and the cutest screaming toddler twins conference…as I push in my foamy ear-plugs and snuggle up to the comfortable arm of my seatmate, I will glance smilingly around the cabin, savoring the self-important discomfort of my fellow travelers.

    I have a call to make to my travel-agent*.

    (Ok…I just use Orbitz/Priceline/Travelocity like everyone else….just sounded cooler).

    Kirk out to teach some botany. Leaves today!

  202. #202 Carlie
    February 15, 2010

    Kirk out to teach some botany. Leaves today!

    Another botanist? Hooray – we need some more of our kind around here to balance out all those animal lovers. *stem-bump*

  203. #203 recovering catholic
    February 15, 2010

    PZ is angry with some of us for saying we don’t like being sandwiched in airplane seats. He doesn’t seem to understand that this causes not only physical but psychological discomfort. I love ya, PZ, but you of all people should realize we all have different tolerances. Scolding your friends for not sharing yours does not become you.

  204. #204 EastexSteve
    February 15, 2010

    @194

    Do you have proof that this policy is “not being enforced equitably or regularly?” Is swa complaint’s higher than other airlines? I’ve heard their successful, by airline standards.

  205. #205 Carlie
    February 15, 2010

    I love ya, PZ, but you of all people should realize we all have different tolerances. Scolding your friends for not sharing yours does not become you.

    Neither does forcing one particular group of people to pay a financial toll for yours become you.

  206. #206 https://me.yahoo.com/a/DhjBEuJ8pt63x6eBKuPx0Jv9_QE-#7c327
    February 15, 2010

    Many of you know me as “littlejohn.”
    As the nickname suggests, I don’t fit well in coach, either. I have no choice but to hog both armrests.
    But nobody says anything because I’m not fat.
    I feel sorry for anyone who sits next to me, because I will encroach on their space at arm and shoulder level. I’m big framed and spent years lifting weights. I can’t help it.
    But I also can’t afford to fly first class. And living in Fort Wayne, Ind., I have no choice but to fly Southwest.
    Has it ever occurred to airlines that maybe they don’t have to cram those tiny seats so damn close together?

  207. #207 nomen-nescio.myopenid.com
    February 15, 2010

    Who would you rather find yourself seated to on a plane? Someone as engaging and witty as Kevin Smith or a miserable bastard who makes judgments on people based upon their looks?

    can i choose someone who will shut the fuck up and leave me to myself?

    they can be as witty, engaging, assholish, or ranting as they please when they’re off the damn plane and out of my earshot. the only reason i’m sharing space with them in an uncomfortable aluminum tube is because i have to (trust me on this, PZ, i do not fly voluntarily. you might, but that just shows the squid have eaten your brain or something….) and all i want out of the total strangers i encounter in that tube is enough personal space, peace, and quiet so i can pretend they do not exist. kthxbai.

  208. #208 badgersdaughter
    February 15, 2010

    People who say they suffer “pain” because they have to sit next to a fatty… please. Spare me your whine.

    Unless the other person is physically sitting on you, or their fat literally squeezes over the armrest and pushes you aside, the only pain you can possibly be suffering is psychological discomfort from having to sit next to someone you consider unattractive. It’s not going to rub off on you, I promise. If you don’t like it that you have to sit next to someone you hate because they’re not sexy enough for you, and you have the option not to fly, please, for all of our sakes, exercise that option.

  209. #209 traustifreyr
    February 15, 2010

    This vid comes into mind with ck louis

    http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x8m5d0_everything-is-amazing-and-nobody-is_fun

    Sure it might be uncomfortable sitting next to a big person on a plane. How lucky all the poor and starving people in the world not to have to experience that. /sarcasm

  210. #210 Andreas Johansson
    February 15, 2010

    PZ wrote:

    I’m rather disappointed in some of the comments here. All the whining about “I don’t want to sit next to a fat person” is deplorable ? look at yourselves. Are you perfect?

    I’m clumsy. Are people out of line if they complain if I bump into them, or break their stuff?

  211. #211 Deen
    February 15, 2010

    So I think they should be within their rights to deny someone carriage or force them to pay for two tickets if they can’t fit into a seat.

    And Kevin Smith is within his rights to loudly criticize them for it.

  212. #212 Carlie
    February 15, 2010

    traustifreyr, that is a fantastic rant.

  213. #213 David Marjanovi?
    February 15, 2010

    Another pie-in-the-sky idea would be for the country to actually invest in rail travel. Amtrak seats are quite comfy and roomy, yet they don’t have the right-of-way anywhere so they get delayed, and service to many areas is spotty or nonexistent, and we have nothing near the train technology that other countries have been using for decades. If there were a reasonable alternative to airline travel, people could have the choice of taking a little longer to get there comfortably, and airlines would then have a competitive reason to treat customers as more than a nuisance.

    Wasn’t there an Obama plan, shortly before or shortly after the election, to start building a high-speed rail network like the French* TGV? Was blogged about on some ScienceBlog and looked fairly impressive.

    * Already extends into Belgium and Germany. Will go further.

    Listen to his cast. Rambling fat guy never getting to the point that his problem is weight, poor health and hygiene. His frame tells a lot about his mind. That`s what turns people off. Ugly inside and out.

    Hygiene???

    remember it’s not a safety issue
    it’s a Safety issue

    B-)

    and then there’s the problem of never having a lot of money all at once, and thus literally having to feed yourself with $3-$4 a day, without the ability to buy in bulk. I’ve known people who lived on three 99cent burgers and a refillable soda a day because they could never get enough money together to go to the grocery store.

    ?

    I knew it was bad for poor people in the USA, but I didn’t know it was quite that bad.

    Flabbergasting.

    National shame.

    Oh, and John, the last time I went out running someone leaned out of a car and yelled ‘lay off the mars bars, you fat bint’.

    <facepalm>

    Every night, I had to go tell my brother to come and get his daughter. He heard her, he just didn’t care. “She’ll cry herself to sleep. It usually only takes an hour or two.” Really? Is it that hard to be a decent parent?

    Wow. If he lacks empathy like this, why does he have children at all?!?

    He’s ill and needs psychiatric treatment (if any exists, which I doubt).

    Who’s wiring our brains? And are we mere rats, or can we assume we’ve got slightly higher levels of conscious choice at our disposal than that?

    Those are much better questions than you seem to think, with much less obvious answers?

  214. #214 badgersdaughter
    February 15, 2010

    Hygiene???

    Because if fat people smelled like roses, most people would think roses stank.

  215. #215 PZ Myers
    February 15, 2010

    I don’t like being squeezed in a fat-person sandwich, either. But the important thing is to not blame them for the situation on the plane, and to realize that as uncomfortable as you are, they are even more uncomfortable.

  216. #216 EastexSteve
    February 15, 2010

    http://s.wsj.net/public/resources/documents/st_midseat_20100106.html

    Interesting, SWA has the lowest # of complaints per 100k fliers of the major airlines, 0.21
    Maybe they’ll make it right.

  217. #217 Eileen
    February 15, 2010

    mo@189 for the win.

    In Canada, the ?one passenger, one ticket? ruling guarantees obese and disabled passengers additional seating, at no extra cost. If more than one passenger is medically necessary, the aide flies for free.

  218. #218 David Marjanovi?
    February 15, 2010

    Another botanist? Hooray – we need some more of our kind around here to balance out all those animal lovers. *stem-bump*

    I thought the botanists are those that actually like animals?

    (Though the joke doesn’t apply to paleozoologists, heh heh.)

  219. #219 shonny
    February 15, 2010

    Posted by: gawiman Author Profile Page | February 14, 2010 11:28 PM

    True, Imflyboy, some people won’t pay, in which case they won’t fly. But lots of people don’t fly because planes can’t really accommodate them. Put in some bigger seats and watch a whole new group of customers show up with cash in hand.

    I’m sure somebody could provide the airlines with appropriate stats on how many big seats to install on each plane.

    Excellent idea gawiman. New type of seats, FP Seats.
    Cost a bit more, but if you are very big, everybody win!
    Can kinda squeeze into a normal seat without spreading out sideways, but, hell, getting that tray down when meals are served ain’t no fun! Belly protrudes too much.
    And yes, eat less, exercise more. Easy to say that!

  220. #220 Shinobi
    February 15, 2010

    Godwin’s law of air travel: As long as there is someone fatter than you on the plane to blame you can blame the fat people for your discomfort instead of the tiniest seats imaginable.

    Lets face it, those seats are tiny. Even small people aren’t comfortable in them. But lets blame the fatties for our discomfort instead of acknowledging that the airlines do not care about your comfort.

    They only care about your comfort enough to further marginalize an already marginalized group of people (fat people.) If you’re uncomfortable they will be happy to punish the nearest fatty for you, just so you can feel a little better about the fact that you’re not fat while your squeezed into a tiny space with a hundreds of other “not as fat as that guy” people.

    And before you get on with the “fat people should just stop being SOO FAT” thing, realize that a solid review of the research will show that there has yet to be found a good way to permanantly lose weight. There is also some evidence that dieting itself may contribute to some of the negative health issues commonly correlated with weight.

  221. #221 ikt
    February 15, 2010

    white males can be discriminated against?

  222. #222 pistoreyu
    February 15, 2010

    Cheerios623, # 167,

    “Let’s face it: Hell is other people.”

    I’ve always wondered why that paltry, mean sentence of Sartre’s has been quoted as undeniable, awesome, universal wisdom. Having dealt with severe social phobia myself (not just shyness), among the things that I’ve gathered are 1) paradise is other people who help me with my individual hell and demons, and a trifle less loftily 2) if somebody screams in a lift or plane, I’ll offer my assistance to chat a bit or, at the very least, my understanding.

    Some commenters seem really resentful of fat people. As Carlie says, I’m certain that the latter know only too well they’re fat and have often been shamed, so I wonder how these commenters deal with so many smug, arrogant, fat people. Yet if we did meet somebody like that, the problem wouldn’t be that they’re fat, but that they’re smug and arrogant.

    Cruithne at 196, that’s a brilliant summary (with the small caveat that I don’t know Kevin Smith).

  223. #223 recovering catholic
    February 15, 2010

    Eileen–
    Yet another reason to move to Canada! I have my “Moving to Canada” book, my “Working and Living in Canada” book, and I subscribe to Dignam’s! (Now I just have to convince my husband…)

  224. #224 recovering catholic
    February 15, 2010

    And Carlie–I don’t think you read my post at 13.

  225. #225 Ol'Greg
    February 15, 2010

    So glad I missed this post. I think I’ll skip the comments here. As an anorexic that feels regularly like carving into herself with a knife because I’ve hit the horrible weight of 140 @ 5’10″ and haven’t run more than two miles in a day in almost three weeks… this is a sore spot.

    Without bothering to read, because really it isn’t healthy for me… fat bashers as a general statement are some of the most disgusting sanctimonious human beings I have ever encountered. I’d argue but I have to avoid it because I have real issues with internalizing any discussion of fat in order to feed my mental problems with the concept of “fat” as it relates to the concept of “me” etc.

    Really though, I’d rather spend a long flight next to a fatty with body issues than ten minutes in the company of some one who thinks they’re in any position to pass judgement.

  226. #226 Carlie
    February 15, 2010

    Miss Conduct (Boston Globe) has a fantastic quote about smug arrogant people: “I’m sad to say that I’ve been inculcated with enough societal garbage that I occasionally hate my own body–but as a thin (white, able-bodied, etc.) person I cannot fathom what it must be like to have others take it upon themselves to hate my body for me. As I’ve said before, if you think fat people have no self-discipline, consider the fact that they haven’t killed you yet.”

  227. #227 mwsletten
    February 15, 2010

    Perhaps Kevin Smith’s plight might draw enough attention to issues regarding airline seat space to get airlines and aircraft manufacturers to make changes in the future (uh huh).

    In the mean time, seat space is what it is. Arguments about obnoxious noises, smells, children and seat mates’ personalities are not comparable; all of these are subjectively determined.

    Space available is not subjective.

    When I purchase an airline ticket, I know I might have to sit next to a hydrophobic, alcoholic, flatulent, garrulous plumbing fixture salesman with halitosis — and that there’s nothing I can do about it. But part of the contract I make with the airline when I purchase a ticket includes an expectation that I will have the exclusive use of the available seat space. It has nothing whatsoever to do with not being tolerant of larger people (it’s not just fat people who need more than their allotted seat space in airplanes), it’s about getting what I paid for.

    One can certainly demand the space they paid for rudely; one can certainly express intolerance of large people when making such demands, but such a demand, in and of itself, is not rude, nor is it demeaning towards larger people.

    In fact, suggesting that a person is somehow rude, insensitive or intolerant towards larger people for expecting the exclusive use of the space they paid for diminishes the rudeness and insensitivity of a large person who knows (s)he cannot fit within the space they paid for and insists on being allowed to occupy the space someone else paid for.

    Given all the other annoyances we know we will have to endure while flying, why would anyone willingly add to them by purposely invading the already limited space allotted to another passenger?

    We all have limitations we must live with. If Southwest’s account of the story is true, Mr. Smith can’t fit within the allotted seat space on Southwest’s jets. He seemed to be aware of this personal limitation as regards Southwest jets, as he has purchased two seats per the airline’s policy in the past. In this case, it appears he was trying to get on a flight without having made an advance purchase. Everyone knows when you’re flying standby you take what you can get. Since only one seat was available on the flight, and Mr. Smith knew from past experience he cannot fit in one seat, perhaps he should have waited for a flight with two available seats, or simply considered another airline with more seat space.

    In short, it seems to me Mr. Smith was willing to inconvenience someone else to avoid the personal inconvenience of waiting for another flight or selecting another airline. By requiring Mr. Smith to follow rules he already knew about, it prevented Mr. Smith from inconveniencing other passengers and/or compromising safety.

    Exactly what did Southwest do wrong?

  228. #228 Carlie
    February 15, 2010

    One can certainly demand the space they paid for rudely;

    It could be argued that you what you paid for was passage from one place to another, not a specific amount of space. Do the attendants come through the cockpit and charge you extra if you end up sitting next to an empty seat and use it to hold your coat and book, or if you simply stretch your arms out over the empty space now and then? Do you get a partial refund if you don’t in fact take up all of the space allotted for one seat and allow the person in front of you to recline further back because your knees don’t stick out much?

    Besides that, the concept of “getting exactly what you paid for” on an airplane is laughable from the start given the way pricing works. I’ve often sat on a flight fantasizing about the fun discussion the whole plane could have if we were to survey everyone on the plane as to the amounts they each paid for the same passage. If that fat person next to you bought their ticket a few hours before or after you did, they might well have paid fifty or a hundred dollars more for that space, and by “getting the space you paid for” logic could demand some of your space as compensation.

  229. #229 Rowen
    February 15, 2010

    Hrm. As someone who’s 6’3″, at 260lbs (and, btw, even though my BMI says I’m obese, I’m not. 34″ waist and work out 6x a week), here’s my list of things more annoying then sitting next to a fat person (which usually isn’t annoying at all).

    1) Middle-aged men who are about average in size and shape, yet seem to think they’re FRICKING HUGE and thus hog the armrest, sit so they’re miniscule shoulders are poking me in the arm, spread their legs and take up all the room there, and have decided that I’m not using all my carry on space, and thus want to put two of their five carry-on bags in with mine.

    2) Short to average sized men and women who try and sit in the emergency exit rows on SWA. I have really long legs. I made sure I was logged in and sitting at the computer 24 hours in advance to make sure I was first in line (I used to get to the airport 3 hours early and park myself at the gate). If you’re in a regular seat, you don’t have to sit with your knees at your ears. I do, so fuck off.

    3) Parents who CAN’T FUCKING CONTROL THEIR KIDS. (note, this is not every parent) Yes, babies cry. Toddlers get antsy. Still, good parents know how to get their 6 year old to stay in their seat. Good parents can keep their 12 year old from digging her knees into my back. Too many of the people who have kids are, unfortunately, bad parents. Just because you’re put upon because you decided to spawn dosen’t mean the rest of us should be, too.

    4) Assholes who talk on the cell phone until the last minute and then once the plane has landed, continue where they left off. And usually loudly.

    5) Couples who just HAVE to sit together. You’re going to be asleep or reading anyway, and you’re in the C group. Grow a pair and spend 3 hours away from each other.

    6) Guys who are in my size category who’ve decided that it’d be better if we big boys all sit together, instead of imposing our broad, muscular shoulders on delicate little women. Not that I mind if he’s hot and hitting on me, but usually he’s not, and while I try and shift over, he’s decided that he gets to act like the guy in #1

    7) That douchebag who tries to keep listening to his ipod or watch his dvd player after the stewardess has told everyone to TURN THAT SHIT OFF SO WE DON’T CRASH.

  230. #230 Antiochus Epiphanes
    February 15, 2010

    Why the hell are we blaming anybody? Compared to travel in many other places in the world, or at any other time in the world, being squished in a US/Europeanish airline seat just really isn’t that bad. Airlines try to pack on as many people as possible on a flight. Duh. People feel crowded and uncomfortable. Duh.

    Try traveling from London to NY in steerage like people used to. Maybe take your family on a conestoga wagon trip across the rocky mountains into the wilds of Utah. Or hop on a modern day minibus in Cape Town…crowded and hot, but fast and temporary. Bus ride into the Andes? You’ll likely not be sharing your seat with fat people but instead with lots of people. And their chickens. And their fear of falling thousands of feet to their death over the side of a mountain.

    Josh, OSG (#74) has the right idea…take care of your own comfort. Make the best of it. FFS.

    @Carlie…botany in the house.

  231. #231 badgersdaughter
    February 15, 2010

    Exactly what did Southwest do wrong?

    Southwest’s own policy says that anyone who can fit into a seat with the armrests lowered is not subject to the extra seat charge, etc. Mr. Smith could fit into a seat with the armrests lowered. Therefore, Southwest was not following its own policy.

    RTFA.

  232. #232 jrsutter
    February 15, 2010

    Ive flown southwest.

    There is no way he fit into one seat. He’s like twice the size of me and I’m a big guy. Im just below the threshold of being ok to sit next to.

    Still, they shouldve have known before letting him on the plane he wasn’t going to fit and not embarrassed him.

    I’m sure the two people sitting on either side of that seat were very grateful to southwest. Though, I’d take a warm slab of flab pressing into me to be able to chat it up with Kevin smith.

    Assuming it was a short flight.

  233. #233 Antiochus Epiphanes
    February 15, 2010

    OK…I have a whine. People who have to stand up as quickly as possible when the plane taxis into the gate (even at the rear of the plane) so that for the next 20 minutes whomever is in the aisle seat and didn’t stand up as quickly has the following choices…A)stand (sort of) hunched over in the space in front of your seat, or B) sit with the quick-stander’s swamp-ass right at face level.

  234. #234 Cuttlefish, OM
    February 15, 2010

    The survey showed that atheists are hated and mistrusted–
    We justly told them what we thought of that;
    And godless immorality? That stigma soon was busted…
    But God Almighty help you if you’re fat.

    (Wow. I suppose I should not be surprised any more, when a group that is “safe to discriminate against” turns around and acts the same way when it is their turn to discriminate.)

  235. #235 Ol'Greg
    February 15, 2010

    (Wow. I suppose I should not be surprised any more, when a group that is “safe to discriminate against” turns around and acts the same way when it is their turn to discriminate.)

    Oh thank you Cuttlefish for that. So well put.

  236. #236 tamakazura
    February 15, 2010

    rorschach, you apparently didn’t read my post. I don’t hate the babies. I KNOW they’re uncomfortable and scared of the strangers and can’t sleep and have popping ears. If you’ve got a domestic flight where you could drive the distance in a day, why would you subject your baby to this? Why would you subject everyone else to listening to your baby scream? Why would you prevent 200 people from sleeping so you could save a few hours travel time? I don’t think that it’s sociopathic to point out that this is inconsiderate. And I am not talking about the competent parents. If it’s obvious that you are trying to appease your screaming child, It’s fine. It’s the ones that let their kids scream for two hours straight (and to me, that says “inattentive parents”), or the ones who let their five year old throw a tantrum that I have issues with.
    As for fat people, it’s not easy for some people to take off weight. It can be done, but I’d wager that half of you people whinging about the fat people wouldn’t have the will-power or the impetus to drastically change their lifestyle to do it. For many overweight people, it involves breaking several bad habits at the same time, rearranging their schedule so they can cook rather than do something else, learning to like different foods, persisting with the excersise even when you’ve been doing it for weeks and haven’t lost a pound, etc. It takes a really mind-blowing amount of willpower and enthusiasm over a long period of time, and that’s not even coping with the psychological issues.
    I know people who can drop 5 pounds in a week by barely changing their eating habits. Some people look at a cookie and gain ten pounds. So, to paraphrase an idea most famously set out in cheesy little motto plaques that the elderly put on their walls: “before you criticize a man, walk a mile in his moccasins. Metaphorically.”

  237. #237 Eidolon
    February 15, 2010

    Since PZ appears to be a fan of Mr. Smith, perhaps his take is a bit slanted?

    As mws @227 pointed out, Smith apparently had bought two seats for himself in the past and had done so for the flight in question. When he went to standby, then it’s you take what you can get. No two seats available thus the decision to not accommodate him on this particular flight. They did so on a later flight and comped him a voucher as well. If this is correct, then it seems as if Mr. Smith is just making a mountain out of a molehill and getting some face time as well. This all started with HIS decision.

    Although Carlie will disagree, you are buying passage and the space of one seat. The number of total seats is central to the economics of the flight. The airline is betting they will fill the seats; if not, each empty seat represents lost income.

    As for all those whining about how their braod shoulders or massive thighs or great height is now well suited to coach travel, either upgrade or STFU. The flight is NOT forever and you need to toughen up a bit.

  238. #238 Rowen
    February 15, 2010

    “before you criticize a man, walk a mile in his moccasins.”

    So that way, you’ll already be a mile away, AND he won’t have his moccasins!

  239. #239 Carlie
    February 15, 2010

    As for all those whining about how their braod shoulders or massive thighs or great height is now well suited to coach travel, either upgrade or STFU. The flight is NOT forever and you need to toughen up a bit.

    Exactly, so how does that not apply also to the people who are complaining about being too close to others? That’s a real question, not snark. Why should it always be on the shoulders (heh) of the larger person to pay extra for the ‘privilege’ of forcing their bodies into a tight space, rather than on the ‘average sized’ yet touch-averse person to upgrade or STFU?

  240. #240 https://me.yahoo.com/hairychris444#96384
    February 15, 2010

    I’m glad I don’t fly regularly. Never had to sit next to anyone overly large, and Rowen @ 229 pretty much sums it up.

    Flameproof suit on, though, what pisses me off the most is kids. I don’t like children anyway* but when they decide to act up (as one did in the row in front of me on my last trasatlantic flight) I have to restrain myself from serious acts of unpleasantness.

    *Even for the barbecue.

  241. #241 https://me.yahoo.com/hairychris444#96384
    February 15, 2010

    And I think that a lot of people are missing the point of the story that Kevin Smith can fit into one seat but generally buys 2 (or the row if with his wife) because he can afford to shell out the cash for extra space.

    And if you listen to the poscast what the stewardess did to the woman on the 2nd flight is bang out of order. That seems to be the reason that he’s making such a noise over the situation.

  242. #242 heatherly
    February 15, 2010

    I just spent the past two and half months bedridden because my chronic illness relapsed. I’m on 15 daily medications, 10 of which have side effects of weight gain, fatigue, and increase of appetite. Want to guess how much weight I’ve gained?
    I’m a vegetarian. I walk to work and everywhere else that I can. I exercise (when not bedridden) as much as my disease allows. I make a reasonable wage and have the luxury of access to high-quality (and organic) fruits and vegetables. And, because of my disease, I am *still* overweight.

    I won’t tell you how it made me feel to read all those comments saying my problems will be solved if I “just exercise and eat better.” If I have to tell you, get out of my species and come back when you’ve learned your manners.

    I don’t want to rehash the many good points discussing obesity made by above commenters, but I did want to elaborate on one: unequal access to nutritional food.

    I’m a social worker, and I worked for a year in inner-city Baltimore (right next to the neighborhood where the “The Corner” was filmed, for the curious). One of my projects focused on health care and nutrition, and these are a few points that might be of interest:

    *As a predominantly black (and impoverished) neighborhood, the residents had a cultural preference for foods–fried chicken, ham, collard greens with lard, etc–that was high in fat and cholesterol. They did not have easy or cheap access to ingredients that would let them have these foods in a healthy way.

    *As a predominantly black neighborhood, they had higher rates of heart disease, diabetes, etc. And decent health care? Riiiiggght…

    *The majority of residents could not afford cars–you bus or you walk. Ever carried groceries on the bus? They couldn’t afford multiple trips on a bus, they couldn’t carry a lot of bulk items. They could walk, and only buy what they could carry, or bus and only buy what fits on the bus.

    *The markets within walking distance were convenience stores or local grocers with very limited selections, and healthier foods were very expensive. The markets within a reasonable bus trip were similar–plenty of cheap, unhealthy food, and less of very expensive healthy food.

    *Money was inconsistent–the unemployment rate in the neighborhood was over 50% (at least, for legal jobs). Banks were rare; they had check-cashing with hefty fees. If you’re working ‘odd jobs’–legal or not–money isn’t regular. You can’t plan meals for the week or budget for healthier, more expensive foods. And with kids–diapers win out over veggies.

    Were the residents overweight? Yes, disproportionately so. Did they know it? Uh, yeah. Did they try to change it? YES.

    And of course, factors such as high violence, drug and alcohol abuse, jail, lack of public services, lack of public concern, depression and mental illness (untreated–no health care, remember?)…

    When I left the center, the residents were ecstatic that a restaurant was opening within the neighborhood. The first restaurant within walking distance for 30 years.

    Obesity is just not simple.

    The issue of Kevin Smith on an airline is a hell of a lot simpler, IMVHO: Suck it up and be nice. We’re all uncomfortable on airlines. Unless there is an actual safety risk or you are being physically or psychologically harmed (ie: lasting physical harm, not: !fat-person cooties!; or significant psychological distress, like an anxiety attack, not: !OMG, personal space!), take a breath and relax. It won’t kill you and at the end you get the beach/mountains/atheist convention.

  243. #243 la tricoteuse
    February 15, 2010

    Carlie at 239 – I may be misreading, but I haven’t noticed many complaints just about “being too close” or being “touched.” I have noticed specific mentions of having one’s space encroached upon by the person sitting in the next seat (for whatever reason, not just “fatness”, which is different). Is that not a point to be addressed, or do you only address things that you can be offended about? (Neither is that snark, it really does seem that you avoid addressing reasonable points made in reasonable tones if they contradict your position.)

    And it DOES apply, yes, but I guess the unfortunate reality is that most things are made for the average (in size or intelligence or otherwise) and people who find themselves above or below average in various ways, be they good ways or bad, usually find themselves in the position of having to adjust in some way. This is not to say that people should not strive to change this where possible and beneficial, of course.

  244. #244 badgersdaughter
    February 15, 2010

    Tricoteuse, I think it needs to be mentioned that most of the so-called “encroachment”, where people talk about fat “flowing” or “spilling” into the next seat, is simply psychological. Objectively, fat does not “flow” or “spill.” People are not made of semi-liquid goo. If you fit between the two armrests of an airplane seat, there is only so much flab you can fit over and/or under an armrest. Some people make it sound as though people who can fit their bottoms into a seat with the armrests down can nevertheless somehow still spill enough of their fat over the armrest to take up half of the seat next to them. This is not physically possible. The fact is that those people are intimidated by the size of the person sitting next to them, and feel more encroached upon than they actually are.

  245. #245 la tricoteuse
    February 15, 2010

    badgers at 244, Sure, but people with larger than average arms/legs (be they muscular or flabby or just really long) might “encroach” by taking up wider space above the waist, causing people next to them to be sort of diagonal. This is not fat-discrimination, it’s physics. So what then?

    I’m not referring to obnoxious people and their imagined slights born of distaste for the unthin. Those people suck and quite a few of them have been really really rude in this thread. I’m just saying that the fact that they’re very very wrong in their vilification of larger people doesn’t make the extreme opposing view (That there is never ever a case when any overweight/fat/obese/whatever person has ever become so through his/her own bad choices and there is never ever a case when any such person has ever encroached upon the space of another to an unreasonable degree) necessarily right.

  246. #246 la tricoteuse
    February 15, 2010

    Er…legs are not above the waist, obviously. Phrasing mix-up!

  247. #247 badgersdaughter
    February 15, 2010

    Tricoteuse, I’m not opposing you so much as voicing something you made me think of. (Knit or crochet, by the way?)

    You would have laughed if you had seen me on the flight to Dallas I took last month. The window and center seats were occupied by two businessmen who looked like caricatures of linebackers. When I sat in the aisle seat, I was so pushed over I felt like my head was in line with the drink cart. I’m more bottom heavy, and they were extremely top heavy, so we switched so I had the middle seat. We just “packed” better that way. Heh.

    As for Antiochus Epiphanes’ objection, seconded here. But the reason this happens is because of short layovers and flight delays that make it nearly impossible to make a connecting flight unless you are first off, or nearly so. I’ve seen people so agitated I thought they were going to try to chew through the hull. I did once see someone near the back try to pry up a window seal with a ball-point pen (not sure what exactly he hoped to accomplish, there). But since I possess a neck that swivels, I use it to rotate my face out of the way of the offender’s ass.

  248. #248 Eidolon
    February 15, 2010

    Carlie:
    I agree with you that if the issue is one of person with a preference for more personal space, then it is they who need to either upgrade or get over it. When our travel requires a long, overnight flight, we upgrade so that we can actually sleep.

    As la tricoteuse points out, seats are made to fit “average” and as non-egalitarian as it is, those who fall outside that range are the ones who end up making adjustments. Not saying it’s nice, but that’s the reality of low cost travel in coach.

    As for what happened on the 2nd flight, all of this appears to be directed towards how Kevin was treated, not some third party. The title “Too wide for the sky” is how this is found with Google, not “Third party wronged”. Honestly, Mr. Smith comes across as having a bit of a sense of entitlement.

    Badger – if only a person’s butt was the widest portion of their body, eh?

  249. #249 Miki Z
    February 15, 2010

    It’s not like encroachment is only a matter of “eww, a piece of cloth touched me, and I know that there is just nasty fat under there”. We have had the people in the row behind us start painting their toenails and doing their hair. Those chemicals are noxious to most people and toxic to some, triggering asthma or other effects. You do your best to be considerate to those around you, and in my personal experience the oblivious ones are usually not the oversized — we know we’re big, whichever dimension that applies to.

  250. #250 Ol'Greg
    February 15, 2010

    Not very much actually annoys me. Once I fell asleep on a flight to NYC and my head rolled over to the side in my sleep onto some stranger’s shoulder. Embarrassing. I’m pretty sure that counts far and above as “encroaching” compared to being fat.

  251. #251 CanonicalKoi
    February 15, 2010

    I have been “trapped” (as one poster put it) between two “large” people on a plane before. I’ll take that any day over having a tall idiot in the seat in front of me who feels that if a seat *can* recline, recline it must for the duration of the transatlantic flight. Perhaps if airlines are going to restrict “large” people as a safety issue, they should also restrict the tall (their permanently reclined seats make it difficult to get around them in case of an emergency), the elderly and the very young (reaction times aren’t up to snuff), the physically handicapped and the too-short. I guess us 5’6″ people will be the only ones flying and therefore the airlines can give us a little more room.

  252. #252 davem
    February 15, 2010

    Someone on slashdor said:

    I was flying from Newark to SanFran. And I was in the last row. Ahead of me were three ladies, and these ladies were HUGE! The interesting part was that these three ladies all had to sit in the same row. They complained and said that they would like new seats. The stewardesses in their nicest voice said, “sorry but this flight is full and you will have to sit in your assigned seats.”

    When the ladies had to sit they moved up all of the armrests and honest to goodness their butts and bodies melted into one another! Needless to say most people around those ladies were relieved that they did not have to endure one those ladies sitting beside them.

    I thought it was pretty efficient for Delta to say, “hey you want to be fat, go for it, its a free country. But while we are at it we are going to put you beside each other…”

    Perfect solution.

  253. #253 https://me.yahoo.com/a/RPuarI8Lze61hZk1PGjwDbui2fIshFKUh6U8SM6lsg--#d17ca
    February 15, 2010

    I’m surprised at this “if fat people don’t want to be discriminated against then they shouldn’t be fat” mentality. I have a friend who has to take heart medication which causes him to gain weight. Combined a joint problem (unrelated to his weight) he also has limited exercise options. With a full time job, college classes, and a small budget he can’t exactly make any drastic lifestyle changes, although he has cut out pop and sugar containing beverages completely.

    And since when do people who make other people uncomfortable need to pay more? How in hell do you enforce that? Planes are uncomfortable, as are buses, subways, and trains. If you don’t want to be crammed in a small seat surrounded by smelly people with large luggage (or creepy body fat that apparently seeps into your space and attempts to consume you) then YOU pay more for 1st class, for a cab, or for renting your own car. And if you can’t afford it, then fuck you because being crammed into such a small space is how you can manage to purchase a seat at such a low price in the first place. So suck it up and deal with the crying babies, the smells of unwashed people and stale smoke, the mouth-breathers, the kid that kicks the back of your seat, the creepy guy who is practically almost leaning on your shoulder, and yes even the obese person who’s fat is apparently managing to take up most of your seat (and is probably waiting for the chance to smother you to death when you fall asleep).

  254. #254 mwsletten
    February 15, 2010

    Carlie, exactly how much space should one be willing to give up? Is there a limit? May I only complain if the large person sitting next to me takes up half my space? One-third? One-fourth?

    Some here seem to think it is rude not to share the arm rest…

    Your argument RE pricing rules is immaterial. No matter how much you pay, you are paying for the seat, are you not? Each person has the right NOT to buy a seat if they don’t like the price.

    badgersdaughter @231: I did RTFA. Here’s what SWA said on its blog: ‘If a Customer cannot comfortably lower the armrest and infringes on a portion of another seat, a Customer seated adjacent would be very uncomfortable and a timely exit from the aircraft in the event of an emergency might be compromised if we allow a cramped, restricted seating arrangement.’

    Applying that policy is up to the pilot in command. According to Federal Aviation Regulations, the pilot in command retains the sole responsibility for ALL decisions that affect the safety of the flight, including seeing to passenger comfort (control of cabin pressurization, lighting, heating and air conditioning) and ensuring passengers are aware of the egress plan in the event of an emergency.

    According to SWA’s blog entry, the pilot observed Mr. Smith sit in a seat and made the determination he was encroaching on the space allotted to another passenger and/or Mr. Smith could not safely fit between the two armrests.

    Again, this is established policy, policy that Mr. Smith is aware of. Mr. Smith has every right to publicly decry Southwest’s seating policies. He can even choose another airline if he likes. But knowing Southwest’s policy and complaining after the fact just makes him look a bit silly.

    Let me put it this way: If Mr. Smith purchased a Honda Civic, then publicly berated Honda for making the seats too small, would you be cheering him on, or would you be asking why he bought a Civic instead of an Accord.

  255. #255 pistoreyu
    February 15, 2010

    Tricoteuse: You’re not expecting my answer when you say that Carlie avoids “addressing reasonable points made in reasonable tones if they contradict your position.” But I’d like to say that your tone doesn’t seem very reasonable or detached to me — for example, in this paragraph:
    “That there is never ever a case when any overweight/fat/obese/whatever person has ever become so through his/her own bad choices and there is never ever a case when any such person has ever encroached upon the space of another to an unreasonable degree.”(My italics.)
    Actually, what are their choices to you? There is also a whiff of this judgmental attitude in your comment 179. (I’m choosing your comments precisely because they sound arguable, by the way.) Though I understand that we have been bludgeoned with publicity to criticise and mock fat people (an attitude that can morph into self-hatred the moment we believe we have gained a gram).
    The discussion could go on vaguely like this:
    “Fat people are lazy!”
    “No, blahblah medications, living standards, blahblah poverty. In any case, human being.”
    “Well, but? some of them are lazy!”
    “Just like in the general population, I suppose. You cannot make assumptions anyway.”
    “But who do I blame now? Some of them must be lazy! Can you at least admit that?”

  256. #256 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    February 15, 2010

    Exactly, so how does that not apply also to the people who are complaining about being too close to others? That’s a real question, not snark. Why should it always be on the shoulders (heh) of the larger person to pay extra for the ‘privilege’ of forcing their bodies into a tight space, rather than on the ‘average sized’ yet touch-averse person to upgrade or STFU?

    I really hope you were being snarky with the last sentence.

    Because there is a limited amount of space and if I’m paying for a portion of space I expect to get it unhindered. I don’t pay for a sandwich and only expect to get 2/3s of it while the guy next to me eats the other 1/3. The seats are a size that fit some people. It just is how it is. I do feel for people who don’t fit into the “this body size fits fine here” demographic, but this is a closed area and if I buy a seat I’d like to think that I am actually getting the whole seat. I don’t think people should be kicked off planes but I also don’t think I should have to be subjected to the person next to me taking up a portion of the seat I paid for, touch averse or not (and that line of argument is ridiculous as far as I’m concerned).

    Now having said that I think that airlines should make accommodations for larger seats for larger people but I also understand that they are running a business and I’m sure if it was cost effective for them to do so, they would have done so already. But you’d think with the expanding waist lines in the USA that USA based airlines might soon be moving in this direction.

    /flame on

  257. #257 John Marley
    February 15, 2010

    It was a far more pleasant experience than sitting next to a) the chain smoker who reeked of cigarettes and was jittering the whole time, b) the drunk guy who hadn’t bathed in a few days, c) the couple with the baby who cried the whole flight, d) the little old lady who had to get up every 10 minutes to use the bathroom, e) the evangelical who tried to witness to me, or f) the young lady who was chronically airsick.

    also, g) the jackass who wants to know what you’re reading, and if it’s one of the Left Behind books. Then proceeds to tell you all about the Left Behind books. Okay, that was the worst ever, but really, anyone who can see that you’re reading, but insists on talking to you anyway.

  258. #258 A. Noyd
    February 15, 2010

    owenevansoo (#136)

    And to those of you who are going off about parents, I damn well hope you’re being satirical.

    I’ve been on enough flights with parents with fussy and active children who they kept quiet (it looked like hard work, but hey, everyone was happier!) and plenty more with parents who let their little brats run wild.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~

    Rowen (#229)

    Assholes who talk on the cell phone until the last minute and then once the plane has landed, continue where they left off.

    A lovely variant on that is the asshole who uses the radio feature, holding the phone two feet from his face and shouting at it while everyone else can hear the incoming replies. Good thing I’m an asshole, too, and the time that happened, I told the guy to knock it the fuck off.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~

    heatherly (#242)

    They couldn’t afford multiple trips on a bus, they couldn’t carry a lot of bulk items. They could walk, and only buy what they could carry, or bus and only buy what fits on the bus.

    There’s a huge amount of cluelessness among those who have cars when it comes to the ease of getting to warehouse stores. Maybe next time I hear someone acting all self-righteous for knowing how to “save money” by driving their car around and buying in bulk, I’ll ask how often they volunteer to assist those who can’t afford cars do the same.

  259. #259 badgersdaughter
    February 15, 2010

    If Mr. Smith had rented many Civics before, and knew he fit in the seat of a Civic, and Honda took his car away because one of their customer service people decided arbitrarily that he was too big to be safe in a Civic, that would be the analogy you’re looking for.

  260. #260 la tricoteuse
    February 15, 2010

    badger – have dabbled in both and mastered neither, but the name is actually not in reference to either, but rather a reference to the women who used to sit knitting by the guillotine during the reign of terror in France and shout “off with his head” a lot. :D

  261. #261 badgersdaughter
    February 15, 2010

    Oh, those tricoteuses. Excellent. :)

  262. #262 alex.asolis.net
    February 15, 2010

    P.Z., you’re wrong again, get over it. The airline has policies, and this is hardly an unreasonable one.

  263. #263 gregfromcanada
    February 15, 2010

    As everyone I think can agree, the airlines have reduced seat space to such a minimum that every bit counts, and loosing even a 1/2″ can mean the difference between a comfortable and uncomfortable experience. It’s a bad situation that is unlikely to change unless there is a significant consumer revolt or the FAA changes it’s rules and mandates larger seat size.

    That said flying isn’t a right, it’s a commodity, and until the situation changes I want my entire seat, not because I’m afraid of touching a stranger, or because I’m insensitive to another’s condition/lifestyle choice, but because I paid for it. No one here has given me a good reason why I should give up the little enough comfort afforded to me by the airlines, for a stranger that can’t fit into their own seat. Sure it may not be their fault, but that is irrelevant.

    Suck it up and be nice? Why? Why is it in this post be responsible for yourself era is it the offender that gets to demand more and the offended that is expected to capitulate? Is the person flowing into my seat being nice? Are you saying that this person should somehow command greater levels of niceness from others just because they are unable to fit into a single seat? How is being forced to do something being nice? I think you are confusing being nice and being meek.

  264. #264 davem
    February 15, 2010

    I’ll take that any day over having a tall idiot in the seat in front of me who feels that if a seat *can* recline, recline it must for the duration of the transatlantic flight.

    I’d like to speak up for the tall (I’m 6’5″). Once the person in front has reclined their seat, it’s physically impossible (really!) for me to fit in my seat without reclining it. You need to have a word with the person in front of the tall guy. When I get in an aeroplane, my knees are not just touching the seat in front, they’re pushing it forwards. If I’m in my seat when the person in front tries to recline it, I’ll physically prevent them doing so. A couple of times, the stewardess has then asked me to recline my seat, because the passenger in front has complained.

    My particular beef is that the airlines always let the midgets sit in the emergency exit seats – the only ones where I would have room to move. Then they show those stupid safety videos that suggest that you tuck your body forwards in an emergency – an act which is physically impossible. The nearest I could get would guarantee a broken neck.

  265. #265 SteveM
    February 15, 2010

    alex.asshole.net wrote:

    P.Z., you’re wrong again, get over it. The airline has policies, and this is hardly an unreasonable one.

    And the point (since you obviously missed it) is that Smith was not in violation of any policy. SWA terms of carriage state that a passenger must be able to sit belted and with arrests down. Smith was seated with both armrests down and safely belted. The captains decision to eject him was capricious and arbitrary.

  266. #266 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    February 15, 2010

    The captains decision to eject him was capricious and arbitrary.

    He probably didn’t like Dogma

  267. #267 la tricoteuse
    February 15, 2010

    Pistoreyu – I guess I see it as a problem that it’s unacceptable to think that some people in the world are responsible for their situations, or that saying so means I actually secretly believe ohmygodallfattiesaregrosslazyslobs. Some people are poor because they blow their money on stupid crap. Other people are poor because there are no jobs available, or because they got pregnant in high school and dropped out because no one taught them to use a condom, and have since been unable to get a decent job, or because they live in a place where people are really racist and they are not of the dominant ethnic group of that area, so they get discriminated against because of their skin color. Etc. It is not helpful to anyone to pretend that everyone in the world is in the situation they are in through absolutely no fault of their own. Some people DO have the ability to change their situations, and I fail to see how recognizing that those people exist is belittling the people who do not belong to that group and therefore have not been accused, by me, of bearing that responsibility. Obviously I don’t know who fits that description and who does not, because as I have already said that knowledge is probably only between those people and their doctors. I just don’t think that the argument that NO ONE is overweight(or poor, or not college educated, or whatever) because of their own choices is any more beneficial or truthful than the argument that everyone is. I find them both appallingly distasteful.

  268. #268 SteveM
    February 15, 2010

    gregfromcanada:

    That said flying isn’t a right, it’s a commodity, and until the situation changes I want my entire seat, not because I’m afraid of touching a stranger, or because I’m insensitive to another’s condition/lifestyle choice, but because I paid for it.

    Are you sure about that? There is a lot of legal debate about what a plane ticket really “buys”. Some argue that it only buys you “carriage” to your destination. The airline provides you a seat for your “comfort” and safety, but you are not buying “the seat” only the right to be transported. Everything else is just negotiated conditions around that transportation. As I understand it, this is the argument behind the “one ticket one person” rule in Canada. That a ticket buys you the transportation, not the seat, and if that means the airline has to provide you two seats then so be it.

  269. #269 gabi37avsfan
    February 15, 2010

    I’ve sat next to an overweight individual who was encroaching on my seat and an individual who was perfectly capable of staying in their own seat but felt the need to elbow me out of mine. I’d MUCH rather sit next to the former than the latter – especially since the former is often actively trying to keep themselves in their own seat as much as possible. When seated next to the latter I have the ‘annoying’ habit of elbowing right back, when seated next to the former, as a pretty skinny chick, I generally try to allot them some comfort as well. My biggest complaints are ALWAYS about the people who are ABLE to control the amount of my space they take up, not those who simply do not fit.

  270. #270 martha
    February 15, 2010

    I am fat. But I am also short so I easily fit in an airline seat. Right now I am having milk with Nestle’s Quick. Don’t hate me, man.

    I have no physical condition that I can point to that would account for me being overweight. But all the women in my family are overweight. The men are skinny. We grew up eating the same stuff.

    I am hungry all the time. It is no fun to live this way, being hungry yet fat and people thinking you are a loser.

    Not enough time and money is spent researching obesity. I think it is just because the obese are not worthy.

    The effing airlines should have bigger seats available and until then, give bigger people two seats, the extra for free.

  271. #271 Ol'Greg
    February 15, 2010

    Oh second the person who said they have to recline to sit. I’m not even 6′ and I have been on flights where my knees are pinned against the person in front of me so that I have to recline. I’ve also paid full price for a normal seat only to find I’ll be spending a transatlantic flight in that little pseudo-seat in the very back that doesn’t recline so that when the person in front of me reclines to sleep they are literally pinning me in against the wall.

    The small seats are the problem, but I’m just not willing to spend thousands on my seat.

  272. #272 Carlie
    February 15, 2010

    I really hope you were being snarky with the last sentence. Because there is a limited amount of space and if I’m paying for a portion of space I expect to get it unhindered.

    No, I’m really not. Not unless you’re prepared to go along with a policy that treats everyone who takes up a different shape of space than the airline allows equally. As has been mentioned about a dozen times on this thread already, there are a lot of other body size issues besides just “fat” that messes with how one fits in an airplane seat, yet only one is being targeted.

    Also, there can be even more dire economic repercussions to people targeted in this way. Let’s say two people work for a small company that does a lot of business travel. Person A is tiny, person B is not. Under the “pay for two seats if you’re a fatass” policy, person B costs the company more to send out on assignment than person A does. Guess who gets promoted and who doesn’t? Or who gets hired in the first place and who doesn’t?

  273. #273 gregfromcanada
    February 15, 2010

    “The airline provides you a seat for your “comfort” and safety, but you are not buying “the seat” only the right to be transported.”

    I think you are splitting hairs here. Whether the ticket is specifically for a seat or the seat is a “negotiated condition” is irrelevant in this application. Once both parties accept, you purchase the ticket, the conditions are set and you are entitled to the resulting agreement. Regardless, the person next to you is not entitled to the results of your agreement.

  274. #274 badgersdaughter
    February 15, 2010

    Martha, being overweight and hungry all the time is a strong symptom of insulin resistance. You may have been told that you were “borderline diabetic,” or “prediabetic.” You may want to be evaluated for polycystic ovary, which tends to run in families and cause insulin resistance and weight gain. Doctors frequently miss PCOS because they treat the fat, not the patient. When you diet and diet and exercise and exercise and still gain weight, a doctor will, as often as not, tell you you are a self-indulgent liar, cheat, and moron.

  275. #275 Carlie
    February 15, 2010

    Another issue wrt whether fat people are fat “on purpose” or not:

    Why is it your personal business whether the person is fat because of genetics, medication, or just because they really like cheesecake? If the person in the seat next to you on the plane has a broken arm that sticks over into your seat space, do you quiz them on how it happened and then get angry about them taking up your space if you find they broke it doing a stupid stunt and complain that they should have bought two seats? Why would you feel that you need to know exactly why the person next to you has an issue or not before you decide if it’s acceptable?

    I guess the real question is: What is so important about being sure that nobody “sneaks by” with a body issue that they “caused themselves” that makes that worth the loss of personal privacy required to screen all fat people to separate the good fatties from the bad ones? Lots of people are fat. Some of them eat too much, but an awful lot have other contributing and causal issues. Is it so terrible to be next to fat that it’s acceptable collateral damage to penalize the ones who aren’t at fault themselves just to make sure that no one gets away with being fat for any other reason? What’s with the body morality policing, anyway?

  276. #276 badgersdaughter
    February 15, 2010

    Carlie, being fat is a crime punishable by corporal punishment, didn’t you know that? After my kidney surgery, when I needed assistance to fly for business to train an overseas branch, everyone assumed either that I couldn’t walk far because I was fat and out of shape, or that my “surgery” was stomach stapling. So they either thought that I should have been punished by being forced to walk anyway, even though I couldn’t, or that I had already been effectively punished by having the offending part of my body removed, like a thief who has his hands cut off.

  277. #277 Ol'Greg
    February 15, 2010

    I guess the real question is: What is so important about being sure that nobody “sneaks by” with a body issue that they “caused themselves” that makes that worth the loss of personal privacy required to screen all fat people to separate the good fatties from the bad ones? Lots of people are fat. Some of them eat too much, but an awful lot have other contributing and causal issues. Is it so terrible to be next to fat that it’s acceptable collateral damage to penalize the ones who aren’t at fault themselves just to make sure that no one gets away with being fat for any other reason? What’s with the body morality policing, anyway?

    I suspect it’s the same motivation that prompted the movement to force women to fill out a personal survey to explain why they’re seeking an abortion. Or the same motivation that makes some people really really upset to know that there are consenting adults engaging in homosexual intercourse. Because concerned citizens have a right to know!!!!

  278. #278 Odonata
    February 15, 2010

    Since we’ve been discussing Kevin Smith in this thread, here’s the trailer to Cop Out which is to be released 26 February 2010. Thought you might enjoy seeing the movie he’s directing!

  279. #279 Louis
    February 15, 2010

    What I can’t understand is how the government and corporations allow any of you people to sit next to me on a plane or even share my planet.

    Why haven’t the government and corporations made everything in my life conform to precisely how I like it without me having to compromise or share in any way shape or form? I’m disgusted! I’d write to my MP if I was even remotely happy about sharing a planet with her either.*

    Why won’t the government and corporations validate my massive sense of entitlement? I’m more important than you. ME! MEEEEE! Why won’t the politcally correct mafia that rule the world let me discriminate against anyone I decide to look down on so that I can validate my own life and paper over my own insecurities? How dare you tell me that the judgements I make against fat people, who are disgusting and morally repugnant, might be inaccurate or lacking in basic human empathy and even a tiny appreciation of the complexity of the issues.

    Judging fat people for being disgusting slobs makes me feel better about the woeful inadequacies in my life, which, and this is important, I will never admit actually exist for admitting mistakes or imperfection is weakness and I’m super strong, infallible and perfect anyway so I don’t have to.

    Louis

    *My MP really is a lady btw, before anyone misconstrues the point of this deliberately hyperbolic piece of pointed comedy.

  280. #280 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    February 15, 2010

    No, I’m really not. Not unless you’re prepared to go along with a policy that treats everyone who takes up a different shape of space than the airline allows equally. As has been mentioned about a dozen times on this thread already, there are a lot of other body size issues besides just “fat” that messes with how one fits in an airplane seat, yet only one is being targeted.

    Yes and I’m not making a judgment call on why someone is or is not large, just that they are so large that their body is occupying a space that I purchased. As it currently stands I don’t think the person not taking up more than a seat’s worth of space should be the one that is inconvenienced. Be they large in girth, height or mouth, they are the ones that are the “offender” (and I mean that only in the sense that I mean that please don’t read more into it) not the person that fits in the seat sized the way it is.

    Do I think it is fair? No. Should there be ways to better accommodate people of different body types?

    Hell yes. 100%

    But why should I who is taking no more than the currently allocated space on the plane for one passenger be forced to sacrifice?

    And yes I understand the repercussions to the someone who is larger than the body type for which the seats were made, but at what point is that my problem when I purchase a plane ticket and why should my comfort, cost value or whatever be diminished just because I was unlucky enough to be sat next to a complete stranger who is unable (for whatever reason) to fit in the seat that the airline decided to size the way it did?

    I’m all for changes being made to accommodate people of various sizes in planes but as it stands some people are unable to fit into a seat without causing a problem for the person next to them who has no physical problem fitting in the seat.

    The argument shouldn’t be with the fellow traveler who expects to get full value of their ticket it is with the airlines who refuse to make accommodations for people who are taller, wider, shorter, or whateverer than the average person.

    And I believe that trying to say that some random stranger should have to give up part of what they are paying for to accommodate someone who is for whatever reason unable to fit the current set up weakens the argument of trying to force the airlines to make the accommodations them selves.

    If airlines had seats that actually fit larger passengers everyone would be happier.

    I expect I will be flamed here for positions I do not hold but whatever.

  281. #281 Ballookey Klugeypop
    February 15, 2010

    I really appreciate Carlie’s comment, #275.

    For most people losing weight is as simple as diet and exercise, but personal experience and science both prove it’s not that easy.

    As this is a science blog, more commenters should be aware of the millennia of evolution that make it very difficult for us to lose weight. For some people it seems to be easy to drop a few pounds, and good for them. For the rest of us, it’s damn hard.

    I had good success with diet and exercise once, but then disaster struck. I could print out the long story about why I am where I am and in the condition you find me and pin it to my person so that you could form a proper judgement, but most people would go TL;DR anyway.

    The point is not who’s fat and why, the point is that the “standards” the airline has are poorly and capriciously implemented resulting in unnecessary additional embarrassment. And if that’s the way they want to play, then folks are well within their rights to say, that’s messed up and we’re going to express our displeasure with our wallets.

  282. #282 pistoreyu
    February 15, 2010

    Tricoteuse: I see. Thanks for your answer. Irresponsibility is indeed an irritating, sometimes nasty or dangerous trait. I heartily agree with you there. Just two things (not necessarily directed at you).

    On the one hand, it’s hard to understand why fat is so morally loaded. With the current fat stigma in our society, I don’t know anybody who purposely eats to grow fat, but if I did, I’d consider that an eccentricity, maybe a charming one, instead of a big sin or a personality failure. (My grandmother, by the way, was quite proud of her bulk, but those were different times.) Puritanism? Billionaire cosmetic industry? Sexism? I’m sure that many here can elaborate better than me.

    On the other hand, even if we considered fatness a moral failure (gasp), we must agree that it is involuntary in most/many cases, as several people have pointed out upthread. Well, then a principle like “don’t assume, don’t speculate” should be an absolute. That should be its very purpose. We make provisions for much more bizarre happenings than somebody being involuntarily fat, after all! I could even believe that someday, somewhere, a dog ate a pupil’s homework and that’s why they didn’t bring it to the classroom. Or that that bright red sports car that has just flamboyantly ignored a traffic light is driven by an elderly person. Whatever; the point is that we shouldn’t eagerly look for guilt when there is a plausible, believable explanation for certain things.

    (Besides, looking for the kindest explanation [and I'm not talking at all about fat now] does wonders for our peace of mind — mine, at least.)

  283. #283 mwsletten
    February 15, 2010

    badgersdaughter said: ‘…took his car away because one of their customer service people decided arbitrarily that he was too big to be safe in a Civic…’

    But that’s not what happened; it wasn’t an ‘arbitrary’ decision. Mr. Smith knew from previous experience Southwest had already determined he was unable to safely fit their seats without causing other passengers discomfort. He has acknowledged such previous to this incident by purchasing two tickets according to Southwest policy.

    So my analogy is closer to the current situation: Mr. Smith purchased a ticket. He knew what he was getting and knew the policies for its use. He then complained when he Southwest required him to follow the policy.

    Southwest is a budget airline. It sells tickets at low prices. It makes money from volume sales, not by charging high prices for plush amenities; there isn’t even a first-class section on their jets. Southwest makes money by putting the highest number of people on a jet as possible. Mr. Smith knew what he was buying. It makes no sense to complain about what he got after the fact.

    And I notice you didn’t answer my question: How much space should I be expected to give up before it becomes permissible to complain?

  284. #284 badgersdaughter
    February 15, 2010

    We all make accommodations. Why do I have to pay taxes out of my earnings to accommodate the needs of the non-working poor, asks the libertarian. Why, asks my co-worker, does she have to give up space in her file cabinet just because I, who have been working here for six years, have more files than she, hired last year, does? Why, ask the driver of an SUV and the driver of the door-bumped ricemobile next to it, don’t they make these goddamn parking spaces any bigger? Why, I want to know, did I have to sit with my leg touching the leg of a sweaty Mexican day laborer when I went to traffic court last week… and I’m sure he was asking why he had to sit with his leg touching some overfed middle-class gringa with a cold?

    We just have to make accommodations, we just have to, because we are a society, and if we don’t, our existence will be nasty, brutish, and short.

  285. #285 pistoreyu
    February 15, 2010

    Sorry, I hadn’t read the last comments. What Carlie said.

  286. #286 badgersdaughter
    February 15, 2010

    And Mr. Smith said he didn’t buy two seats because he couldn’t fit into one seat–he did it because seats are cheap and he was rich and he preferred not to be encroached upon. So I suppose we should use his example as an indicator of what people should do if they fear being encroached upon, no?

  287. #287 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    February 15, 2010

    We just have to make accommodations, we just have to, because we are a society, and if we don’t, our existence will be nasty, brutish, and short.

    Well yes of course we all make accommodations but all of the above analogies fail with the topic of a paid seat.

    Should I be ok with being forced to give up 1/3 of my paid for sandwich to the person next to me because he takes it? Does it make it less worse if he’s paid for a sandwich of his own?

  288. #288 badgersdaughter
    February 15, 2010

    Sure, Brother BDC, I totally agree with you. Why should you have to pay taxes to feed the guy sitting next to you who can only afford half a sandwich?

    /sarcasm

  289. #289 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    February 15, 2010

    So I suppose we should use his example as an indicator of what people should do if they fear being encroached upon, no?

    So the person being encroached upon is the one whose burden it is to deal with the situation?

  290. #290 badgersdaughter
    February 15, 2010

    I’m saying that using his story as if it was evidence for the position that the accommodation should come from one side unilaterally is wrong, no matter what side you take.

  291. #291 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    February 15, 2010

    Sure, Brother BDC, I totally agree with you. Why should you have to pay taxes to feed the guy sitting next to you who can only afford half a sandwich?

    Thanks for the sarcasm and for misrepresenting my point but that’s not at all what I said.

  292. #292 Flex
    February 15, 2010

    Hmm,

    As an engineer, who knows almost nothing about airline seating (but ignorance has never stopped a good engineer ;) ), here are a few suggested solutions to the problem.

    A. Everyone brings their own seats! That’s right, either rent them at the airport for the size you need, or bring them from home and the airline charges you by the amount of space they take up. Empty out the entire cabin, and fill it when people get there. Complimentary wrist straps will be available for those people who want to stand. (With a tip o’the hat to Bob Newhart and the Grace L. Ferguson Airline and Storm Door Company.)

    B. Install 3 tiers of mattresses. No one sits any longer, everyone gets to lie down. If packed properly, I think you could double the number of passengers.

    C. Okay, something a little more realistic. IIRC airline seats are limited in width by a couple of restrictions: the width of the aisle for the carts, and the spacing of the attachment rails to the floor of the cabin. This is why I doubt that they have really gotten much smaller over the years. Oh, they seem smaller. They were a lot bigger when I was flying 30 years ago. Of course I was over 150lbs lighter when I was 10.

    However, if the airlines only have, as an example, 54 inches to put seats in, they’ll end up putting three 17″ seats rather than two 26.5″ seats.

    What they could do is to use that same 54″ for three seats differently. They could put in two 15″ seats, and have room for a 22″ seat for larger people. They could charge 22% more for the seat which is 5″ wider, and 10% less for the two seats which are 2″ smaller.

    (For the mathematics pedants I’m allowing some space between seats, 1/2″-1″, which is why my numbers don’t precisely add up.)

    You wouldn’t need a great many rows like this, probably 4-5 rows/flight. The net income would be slightly higher because a single large seat ticket sale gets a bit more revenue than the loss from the 2 smaller seat revenue. But it’s not as much as upgrading to business class.

    There would be plenty of people willing to be in a little smaller seat (I’m not one of them, but judging by the above comments they do exist) for the savings in cost.

    ———-

    Now for my flying complaint. I fit comfortably into the seat, but my shoulders don’t. Normally I hunch in if I’m in the middle seat, or scoot over if I’m in the aisle or a window in to avoid annoying the person sitting next to me. Which means that when I’m in an aisle seat about five inches of my shoulder is in the aisle. Which is fine until the cart comes along. I’ve been hit often enough, and hard enough, with those carts that my shoulder gets bruised.

  293. #293 badgersdaughter
    February 15, 2010

    I know it wasn’t what you said. But the principle is the same. Why should you share what you paid for, whether you paid for it with money or with labor? Why shouldn’t you get the full value of your seat, or of your money? Why did some obnoxious third party force you to share?

    Are you becoming a libertarian, or do airplanes simply represent an enlightened despotism?

  294. #294 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    February 15, 2010

    I’m saying that using his story as if it was evidence for the position that the accommodation should come from one side unilaterally is wrong, no matter what side you take.

    Ok that I understand, but this isn’t an issue of accommodation IMHO. It is an issue of paying for something and taking more than what you paid for.

    Should airlines refund part of what I paid for the seat if I’m having to share a portion of it with a tall, wide, whatever person?

    Now I fully appreciate that it might not be your fault you (not you in particular) are unable to fit in the seat but as soon as you start occupying more than what you paid for (and yes I understand there are arguments addressing this), then you are taking more than what you paid for and taking some of what the other passenger paid for and expected.

    As I’ve said a number of times, I don’t think that it is fair that seats are the way they are and that I would love to see airlines address the issue but why is the burden on the person paying for and occupying the allotted space, fair or unfair that the space is?

  295. #295 badgersdaughter
    February 15, 2010

    why is the burden on the person paying for and occupying the allotted space, fair or unfair that the space is?

    Well… that I don’t know. I guess the answer is really that there is only one size of seat available at the price that the flier can afford. That isn’t fair to the person whose space is overlapped (if I say “encroach” one more time, I think I’m going to “encroak”).

    The best answer I can give you is that we bear disproportionate burdens according to our ability bear them. I don’t, as Marx did, consider this a desirable way to build a society. I consider it an often regrettable fact of life.

  296. #296 https://me.yahoo.com/a/RPuarI8Lze61hZk1PGjwDbui2fIshFKUh6U8SM6lsg--#d17ca
    February 15, 2010

    As someone who worked in a lower position for a large corporation I’ve had to follow the sort of thinking that “corporate” does in order to increase profits. Forcing people to buy extra unused seats even when they are not needed (like in the case of the woman Smith mentioned) is probably just a way for SW to max their profits. It has nothing to do with comfort or safety, if you have ever been on one of their planes you know they don’t give a damn how irritated or uncomfortable you are. Grayhound of the sky indeed.

    Their ability to refuse people as passengers because of their weight is completely arbitrary. Smith and the woman he talked about could both put down their armrests and buckle their seatbelts which is what SW airlines little “too fat to fly” rule states as the way to telling if someone poses a safety hazard. I can’t tell about the woman but judging from pictures of Smith he is in no way of the category of people who are too heavy set to fit in one seat.

    This is their company, being an ass to people, and for the most part getting away with it due to the embarrassment of the issue. I always knew their customer service sucked, but now I know that if they ever find a problem with me (for whatever reason) then they can probably get away with taking me off a plane without justification. Now I know that if I ever want to get anywhere, and make sure I get there on time without hassle then SW is not where I’m going to go.

  297. #297 badgersdaughter
    February 15, 2010

    A thought. If from the first they had designed airplane seats as pews without armrests, would this entire discussion ever have arisen?

  298. #298 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    February 15, 2010

    I know it wasn’t what you said. But the principle is the same. Why should you share what you paid for, whether you paid for it with money or with labor? Why shouldn’t you get the full value of your seat, or of your money? Why did some obnoxious third party force you to share?

    Because I know I pay taxes. I expect to pay taxes and do so with no problem. I understand that taxes changes with new elections and I understand that some of my taxes pay for things I would rather not pay for. When I pay for a seat I expect to have the full seat, same as the sandwich I paid for.

    If I was told ahead of time “You are purchasing this seat but there is a chance you will have to give up a percentage of your purchase with no refund if someone who is too large to fit in the seat next to you is sat next to you” then that would be a different story.

    Here is your sandwich that you purchased but if the person next to decided to take part of it there is nothing you can do and you have to be ok with that.

    That is my point. As a consumer I have a reasonable expectation to get what I paid for. Does that always work out? No but usually you have a recourse to try and remedy the situation. The seat might have shitty fabric, no magazines, be over the wing, next to the engine etc.. but it is a seat. If I’m told ahead of time what I’m paying for means I might be sharing the seat with someone else who for whatever reason needs to occupy more than the allocated space then that is a wholly different situation.

    That is my only beef. I have no problem with fat or tall people. I make no judgment on why someone is overweight. I’m fat and relatively tall and I got there purely because I eat and drink too much and don’t exercise enough. And I have a big fat mouth on top of it all.

    Are you becoming a libertarian, or do airplanes simply represent an enlightened despotism?

    I’ll let that slide only because it was pretty funny.

  299. #299 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    February 15, 2010

    A thought. If from the first they had designed airplane seats as pews without armrests, would this entire discussion ever have arisen?

    Well the whole seatbelt thing and where they are attached, but maybe not.

  300. #300 Pygmy Loris
    February 15, 2010

    On the one hand, it’s hard to understand why fat is so morally loaded. With the current fat stigma in our society, I don’t know anybody who purposely eats to grow fat, but if I did, I’d consider that an eccentricity, maybe a charming one, instead of a big sin or a personality failure.

    Being fat is considered a moral failing for the same reason that being too promiscuous is. For some reason *cough*fuckingPuritanism*cough* our society has decided that if you are doing anything enough to make you happy, then you’re a bad person. We should all engage in self-deprivation so that we’re not bad people. It’s just that some of us look like we don’t eat too much (whatever “too much” means) because we got lucky in the genetic lottery.

  301. #301 badgersdaughter
    February 15, 2010

    Yeah, OK, I guess if it was actually true that people who are able to fit into an airplane seat and buckle the seatbelt really take up that much more space than the width of the seat, then I could take the problem more seriously. Fortunately humans tend toward the cylindrical shape rather than the inverted cone, and large people don’t all look like Mr. Incredible.

  302. #302 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    February 15, 2010

    Fortunately humans tend toward the cylindrical shape rather than the inverted cone, and large people don’t all look like Mr. Incredible.

    I know I don’t

  303. #303 badgersdaughter
    February 15, 2010

    Yeah, I don’t look like Mrs. Incredible, either. I bet she had no trouble at all fitting into airplane seats. :)

  304. #304 Flex
    February 15, 2010

    badgersdaughter @297,

    A thought. If from the first they had designed airplane seats as pews without armrests, would this entire discussion ever have arisen?

    Probably not. Even seatbelts could be easily attached to rails and have been adjustable enough to enable pews to be used.

    However, commercial flight started as a luxury service and I can’t imagine that the initial customers would have thought pew-style seating would be particularly luxurious. And while some luxuries degrade as they are made more affordable, it’s rare to see a tested and commonly agreed upon design be thrown away. IIRC, it’s been shown pretty conclusively that rear-facing airline seating is safer than front-facing, but that hasn’t changed either.

    So while I can’t say that this discussion would have happened had there been pew-style seating, but I also can’t think of a circumstance where an early airline would have used pew-style seating.

  305. #305 https://me.yahoo.com/a/fmNe0g4K3PT3lo9YncSRaNWDN9YFBAzHCg--#a1b6c
    February 15, 2010

    And before anyone starts to complain about the comfort of his seatmate or other seating issues, he said that he was in the seat, belted in without a belt extender, and with both of the armrests fully down and fitting just fine, then the pilot took one look at him and had him kicked off.

    But of course, NOT A SINGLE ONE OF THE PEOPLE WHO BITCHED OUT KEVIN SMITH HERE TOOK THIS INTO ACCOUNT before they went on their jihad against the fatties.

    Anti-Fatty Prejudice is the last socially acceptable prejudice.

  306. #306 badgersdaughter
    February 15, 2010

    Anti-Fatty Prejudice is the last socially acceptable prejudice.

    Hardly the last.

    As any atheist here can probably attest.

  307. #307 badgersdaughter
    February 15, 2010

    Come to think of it, I don’t think that “In case of a landing on water, whatever portion of your seat you are able to tear off may be used as a flotation device” would go over very well either.

  308. #308 https://me.yahoo.com/a/fmNe0g4K3PT3lo9YncSRaNWDN9YFBAzHCg--#a1b6c
    February 15, 2010

    Hardly the last.

    As any atheist here can probably attest.

    And how many of them were playing Kick-The-Fatty here, going after Kevin Smith, and still feeling oh-so-morally-superior to those icky nasty deluded religious people?

    Kevin Smith, who, as was stated right in the very first comment of this thread, was already safely seated and buckled in, without a belt extender and without hindering the use of the arm rests?

    This is as pure a test of anti-fatty prejudice as one can imagine. Smith’s size didn’t keep him from fitting into a standard airplane seat, using a standard, unextended seat belt. There was absolutely no rational, fact-based and pertinent justification for kicking him off the plane. Yet that didn’t save him from a fatphobic pilot. Or, apparently, from the fat bigots here.

  309. #309 badgersdaughter
    February 15, 2010

    Smith’s size didn’t keep him from fitting into a standard airplane seat, using a standard, unextended seat belt. There was absolutely no rational, fact-based and pertinent justification for kicking him off the plane.

    As I pointed out. But this is a fact-based, evidence-based, science blog where it pays to be precise with your statements and back them up with valid arguments.

  310. #310 mwsletten
    February 15, 2010

    badgersdaughter said: ‘I’m saying that using his story as if it was evidence for the position that the accommodation should come from one side unilaterally is wrong, no matter what side you take.’

    The ONLY accommodation required is for everyone to understand and follow the agreement made prior to purchase of the seat, to wit: The seat size is limited; if you cannot fit safely in the seat without making those around you uncomfortable you must purchase two seats; if only one seat is available you must wait for another flight.

    If you are aware of the terms of the agreement, as was Mr. Smith, then you have no reason to complain when you are asked to abide by the restriction.

    (Those suggesting they can tell Mr. Smith isn’t big enough to need two seats by looking at the photo are full of beans. How can you make such a judgment from a photo showing nothing against which to measure?)

    What I don’t understand is why, knowing he didn’t meet the safe/comfortable seating standard, Mr. Smith attempted to board, risking the embarrassment of being told in front of a plane load of people he didn’t meet the standard and would have to deplane.

    Smells a bit funny to me.

    How about if airlines started asking for volunteers to give up some of their seating space to the person sitting next to them? That way, those who don’t mind can be seated next to large people who need more room.

    I wonder how many volunteers they’d get…

  311. #311 Carlie
    February 15, 2010

    Oh, there are plenty of socially acceptable prejudices to go around. And what’s really fun is when they intersect, say for instance a fat woman smoker with six kids who uses a handicapped parking spot.

    I don’t think that “In case of a landing on water, whatever portion of your seat you are able to tear off may be used as a flotation device” would go over very well either.

    I’m getting an image in my head of three people fighting over a single oversized pew cushion, and although it shouldn’t be funny, it is.

    (BTW, I adore the idea of bench seating with seatbelts and maybe even armrests on sliders. Adjustable seating for all! And then there can be pure capitalism:”I’ll give you 20 bucks right now if you let me move my armrest another 2 inches in your direction.”)

  312. #312 badgersdaughter
    February 15, 2010

    What I don’t understand is why, knowing he didn’t meet the safe/comfortable seating standard, Mr. Smith attempted to board…

    What you don’t understand is that he did meet the seating standard. Armrests down, no seatbelt extender needed, just like it says on Southwest’s own website.

  313. #313 bernieg2
    February 15, 2010

    Being tolerant of fat people is morally wrong. We should ridicule rotundoes for the same reason that smokers and drunks should be ridiculed: to inhibit youngsters from emulating that disgusting behavior.

    See http://bit.ly/9A298p

  314. #314 Shinobi
    February 15, 2010

    To Ballooey at #281

    You’d be surprised to find out that permanent weight loss really ISN”T as simple as diet and exercise.

    A lot of people can lose weight in the short term with diet and exercise, but in the long term it comes back. Repeated research has shown consistently that 95% of dieters regain and even gain more weight sometimes even when they are still following the “diet.” (Here’s one example: http://www.reuters.com/article/gc08/idUSN3036700020070402?pageNumber=1 but there are lots more.) Even individuals who have had bariatric surgery often regain the weight (Those lucky 98 out of 100 who survive the complications of the surgery.)

    Our research on weight loss is not complete, there is no magic bullet to make fat people thin, it isn’t simple. There was a really interesting talk by Paul Campos about how the way we treat fat people in our society is not dissimilar to how we used to treat gay people: http://www.bigfatblog.com/paul-campos-fat-and-idenity-politics

  315. #315 paula
    February 15, 2010

    I’ve got a great big fat arse, and my 6’5″ husband has long legs and broad shoulders. so we sit together on a plane (as far away from our squabbling, crying, tanrum throwing children as possible ;) ). I encroach on his arse space under the armrest, he encroaches on my shoulder space over the arm rest. we both fight over leg space (damn his ‘phantom’ giant schlong) and vow to drive the 15 hours to Sydney next time – so we can fight over the space in our small car in private instead.

    air travel sucks. being fat sucks. being tall sucks. having kids sucks. being next to people in an areoplane with parents who think having kids sucks, sucks.

    I thought for a minute there that PZ was complaining about the *tone* of the whinging ‘i hate fatties’ comments. But that couldn’t be right, could it? Anyway everyone knows that fatties are only people fatter than oneself.

  316. #316 Rowen
    February 15, 2010

    So . . . RevBDC,

    Let’s say that I, as a tall person with broad shoulders, boards the plane on the C group. The only seat is right next to you, and probably a middle seat (C DOES stand for Center Seat!). I scoot over (probably having to step over you, if you’re in the aisle seat, since you’ve decided that since you’re sitting, you shouldn’t have to get up for us late-comers, and you are probably rolling your eyes and scowling the whole time.), and I take my seat. Since you’ve spread out in your seat, and the old lady sitting at the window has done the same, I try and hunch my shoulders in and even lean forward a bit while I spend the next 3 hours reading. Meanwhile, the guy in front of me has decided that he wants to nap and reclines his chair back. The teenage girl behind me has put down her tray table and put her head on it, stopping me from reclining my chair.

    I spend the next 3 hours in a weird sitting up, but hunched over position, getting glares from you and the old lady by the window every time my elbow or shoulders touch you. I can’t move, and at about 1.5 hours, I have to pee, but decide that getting you to move is gonna be more trouble then it’s worth.

    So, explain to me how charging ME more is a better idea when I’ve been trying to NOT “encroach” on everyone else’s space and end up having a completely miserable flight because YOU, the old woman, the guy in front and the teenage girl have all decided that since I’m the “big guy” that I’M the problem. This isn’t about 1/3 vs 2/3′s of a sandwhich.

    You claim that the problem is actually with the airlines, but you spend a lot of time bitching about things being fair for you, since the “fatty” next to you is taking too much room, rather then bitch about the airlines, which makes me wonder.

  317. #317 Ol'Greg
    February 15, 2010

    “We should ridicule rotundoes for the same reason that smokers and drunks should be ridiculed: to inhibit youngsters from emulating that disgusting behavior”

    That must explain why almost every person I know who is my age smokes. All that ridicule convinced them of what is healthy.

    Ridicule did *GREAT THINGS* for me growing up in a family with a drug abuser and alcoholic, but it’s people’s moral obligation right? I mean, there certainly couldn’t be anything deeper going on in people than in Pavlov’s dogs!

    It’s done *WONDERS* with abstinence too. You know, just ridicule women who show the obvious punishments for fornication like babies and STDs. They are just the way of showing people what is morally right, and it is morally superior to aid in their misery and be as nasty as possible.

    This is a part of a larger philosophy, no?

  318. #318 badgersdaughter
    February 15, 2010

    This is a part of a larger philosophy, no?

    In Bible times, they called it “stoning.”

  319. #319 mwsletten
    February 15, 2010

    @305 shouted: ‘…[Mr. Smith] was in the seat, belted in without a belt extender, and with both of the armrests fully down… NOT A SINGLE ONE OF THE PEOPLE WHO BITCHED OUT KEVIN SMITH HERE TOOK THIS INTO ACCOUNT before they went on their jihad against the fatties.’

    Nice mixing of metaphors there… ‘jihad’ implies anyone arguing against your position must be a terrorist. Salaam alaikum, I guess. ‘Fatties’ is the word you chose, BTW. I’ve already mentioned seating space problems aren’t restricted to fat people, anyone big enough to interfere with safety or the comfort of those seated around him is a problem, fat or not.

    I’m 6’3″ and vary between 195 and 205 lbs. Southwest is NOT my first choice for airline travel because it does not assign seats, meaning I cannot specify an aisle or exit row seat. Exit row seats typically provide more leg room, but an aisle row seat will do in a pinch.

    At my size, I fit in the seats on Southwest jets — barely. And therein lies the rub; even if I agreed with some here who believe each passenger is obliged to give up space to a larger seat mate, I don’t have the room to spare. What’s the right thing to do in those cases? What if there are two passengers seated next to each other who require a seat-and-a-quarter each? What if one has no room to spare, but the next requires a seat-and-a-half?

    How much space should I be obliged to give up to a larger seat mate to prove I’m not an anti-fat bigot?

    Regarding Mr. Smith’s situation, it’s not just whether he could force the armrests down into position, it’s whether his size makes sitting with the armrests forced into position unsafe, and whether he was making the passengers next to him uncomfortable. That’s a judgment call you cannot dispute since you weren’t on the aircraft.

    What is it about ‘discount airline’ that confuses people? It’s a no-frills, cattle-car operation intended to get you from point A to point B as cheaply as possible without compromising safety. It crams as many people on the airplane as possible by selling cheap airline tickets — a lot of them. It purposely keeps the seats small so it can get more people on the plane. Small seats and lots of people make egress more of a problem. Southwest knows its seats are small and might pose a safety problem for larger people in an egress situation and/or a comfort problem for those seated around them. It melds the competing requirements of ‘as many people as possible on the plane’ and ‘safety’ via policy. If you can’t fit in one of their seats (their judgment call, not yours), you must purchase two. If only one seat is available you must wait for another flight.

    If Mr. Smith didn’t want to buy two, he could simply have selected another airline. There are many airlines that advertise and provide larger, more spacious seats.

    I don’t get how this became a Southwest-hates-fat-people story. Mr. Smith purchased the cheapest airline ticket he could find from a company known for its spartan accommodations. He knew he couldn’t meet Southwest’s seating policy, yet tried to game the system. The Southwest pilot made a judgment call Mr. Smith knew was possible given that he’d purchased two seats for himself on a previous Southwest flight. In other words, the airline enforced a policy he was well aware of, now he’s complaining about it.

    For my part, I keep coming back to the same question: Given Mr. Smith’s awareness of Southwest’s seat size and seating policy, why would he choose to fly that airline? Why not choose an airline with more accommodating seating? It just comes across as an exercise in attention getting to me.

    If you want to argue Southwest’s seating policy is discriminatory, well that’s an entirely different debate — one likely that will only be settled in court. But that’s not what’s at issue here. Mr. Smith is complaining because he got what he paid for; and many here (including PZ) feel his complaint is justified.

    This strikes me as odd given a group whose members prize logical thought.

  320. #320 Nick
    February 15, 2010

    badgersdaughter # 297
    ‘A thought. If from the first they had designed airplane seats as pews without armrests, would this entire discussion ever have arisen?’
    The armrests exist as part of the safety features of the seat. They allow for bracing, and also stop people sliding side-to-side. Which is why the crew insist on the armrest being down for take-off and landing, the two parts of the flight when most accidents happen.
    Hence the airlines sensitivity to the danger that a person would get jammed into a seat, be unable to move, and potentially impede the egress of other passengers in the seat row. Which, I am guessing, is the basis of Southwest’s policy regarding obese people. Nothing to do with them not liking plump people. Just wanting to reduce their expose to possible lawsuits from the families of passengers who were delayed in exiting a burning plane because an obese passenger was trapped in a seat next to them.
    Which is also why airlines are reluctant to fully explain why they insist on obese passengers buying two seats. Airlines don’t like to remind their customers that their journey could end in a fiery inferno. Unlike the Catholic Church, who happily tell us that if we don’t buy their product, a fiery end awaits us.

  321. #321 mwsletten
    February 15, 2010

    badgersdaughter @312 said: ‘What you don’t understand is that he did meet the seating standard. Armrests down, no seatbelt extender needed, just like it says on Southwest’s own website.’

    If you’re gonna argue fact, you should get ‘em straight…

    Directly from Southwest’s website:

    http://www.southwest.com/travel_center/cos_guidelines.html

    ‘Customers who are unable to lower both armrests and/or who compromise any portion of adjacent seating should proactively book the number of seats needed prior to travel.’

  322. #322 mwsletten
    February 15, 2010

    Nick @320, Southwest frankly discusses the why and wherefores of its seating policy here:

    http://www.southwest.com/travel_center/cos_qa.html

    I can’t for the life of me understand how anyone could fault Southwest. It frankly acknowledges it keeps seats small for the purpose of packing the jets. There’s no secret conspiracy to make a profit at the expense of large people; it simply has a business plan that doesn’t include comfortable seating. If you want that, find another airline — that’s what I do.

    It covers in detail the concept that each passenger is entitled to the full use of the seat space purchased, and that it would be unfair to allow one passenger to interfere with the comfort of another.

    It explores the sensitivity of publicly discussing ‘size’ with a passenger — something I think Mr. Smith should have considered before attempting to board a flight knowing he couldn’t meet Southwest’s seating policy.

    It provides a definitive guide for pretty much all considerations: height, width, hips, shoulders, pregnancy, etc. allowing anyone with questions to make an informed decision before arriving at the airport. The defining standard is very simple, you must fit in your seat with the armrests down without compromising any portion of adjacent seats — I don’t see how it can be any more fair for everyone.

    The bottom line is each passenger deserves what (s)he paid for — no more… and no less.

  323. #323 tamakazura
    February 15, 2010

    They keep planes so damn cold all the time, too. Every time I fly and want to sleep I have to sit on my hands to keep them warm. Sitting next to fat people would be like having the blanket they no longer regularly supply you with.

  324. #324 RamziD
    February 15, 2010

    #167.

    Bravo for being calm, cool, and collected.

    I would like to offer a few of my atheist friends here something which we tend to save exclusively for our theist adversaries: the fainting couch.

  325. #325 speedweasel
    February 15, 2010

    Stand people on a scale with their baggage and charge them based on the total weight they bring aboard the aircraft.

    Flights getting too expensive? Lose some weight or pack less shoes. It’s your choice.

    And as for the seating arrangements, I say hammocks!

  326. #326 Eidolon
    February 15, 2010

    MWS @ 322

    As you pointed out, a visit to the web site does spell out the why and wherefore of Southwest’s policy. I was surprised to note that they refund the discounted price the person of size paid for the extra set if the flight does not sell out. They do so 98% of the time and the extra seat is sold at a discounted rate as well.

    Going back to first facts, Smith made a decision to change flights, go to standby, and then tried to get by with 1 seat. From his previous purchases, it seems he was aware of the potential issue but chose to try to brazen this one out.

    If I’m flying a short rip, I’ll fly cheap and crowded; longer flights, I’ll pay for some extra comfort. Although many have tried to make this into a hatred of fat people deal, including Smith and PZ, the real issue is that Smith appears to want an exception for him.

  327. #327 Carlie
    February 15, 2010

    I would like to offer a few of my atheist friends here something which we tend to save exclusively for our theist adversaries: the fainting couch.

    I’d like to use the fainting couch, but there’s already a fat person sitting there taking up all the space. Hmpf.

  328. #328 Rowen
    February 15, 2010

    @mswletten,

    You really need to bone up on your reading comprehension. It has been posted MANY times that not only was Mr. Smith meeting the SWA seating standard BUT HE HAD PURCHASED TWO FUCKING SEATS ALREADY. AND the woman sitting next to those seats was then asked to PURCHASE A SEAT THAT HAD ALREADY BEEN PAID FOR.

    Now, if my student loan or credit card payment is late and gets sent to a collection agency, and I’ve already paid, then if they ask me to pay, again, that’s double dipping and ILLEGAL.

    The seat was paid for, and there was no reason for SWA to give her or Mr. Smith shit.

  329. #329 Peter G.
    February 15, 2010

    bernieg2@313 Wow! How do you feel about tolerance of giant obnoxious assholes? Do you enjoy being ridiculed due to your membership in that august fraternity. I doubt if your philosophy of ridiculing people to modify their behavior produces anything but serial killers but, who knows, you might be right, in which case I’ll pat myself for the profoundly moral act of calling you a douchebag.

  330. #330 Ol'Greg
    February 15, 2010

    I hate the words “a little diet and exercise” so much. I keep a schedule like an awful lot of big people I know. That is I count calories, stopping at 1200. I have to count because if I don’t I start thinking I’ve eaten too much and acting accordingly. Now for a while I never put much weight on, but recently I started to. I work out on average 1-2 hours a day. Working 8-5 (hypothetically but how often do those hours really stay that way when salaried?) this means I have very little time for other things, but my life is almost meaningless but for not-being-fat.

    And this empty, joyless, cycle where all food is poison that has to be regulated and I get so angry with myself I could cry because I’ve not done enough situps and my jean size is still 30 in. “like a cow.” Now you see I live in this trap every day, as do an awful lot of the fat people I know. I’m not sure what to do at the moment because I simply can not be comfortable at this weight, but I do not want to set off my own destructive cycle either. Ten years ago or so I weighed 95lbs at my height.

    Except when fat people find themselves caught in this lifestyle people stand aside and say “You’re not trying hard enough.”

    Honestly if people were already saying that to me it might depress me so much I’d just go ahead and eat like a pig anyway because nothing good is going to come of it.

    At least I can have the comfort of knowing that some of my obsession is destructive, not healthy, not good, not helpful. Fat people don’t get that kind of sympathy though usually despite the fact that you *simply can not tell from looking* why some one is fat. You can’t tell why or what they do.

    And it’s disgusting. Because if you’re lucky and can live with your weight without abuse, whether external or internal, and you can mess up a little here and there (eat a hamburger? Want some ice cream?), then you can pretend you’re some how MORALLY SUPERIOR when in reality you may not even be making an effort at all.

    The whole thing… all of it… is sick and sad. Each of us are offensive to some others, and everyone is a burden to society in some way. Mercifully most people contribute too.

    This whole idea of looking at some one and assessing how much the “contribute” vs how much they “weigh” rather literally, is ridiculous and small-minded. It’s stupid and destructive when it’s done against any group for any reason.

  331. #331 speedweasel
    February 15, 2010

    Rev. BDC said,

    He probably didn’t like Dogma

    Who did?

  332. #332 Nick
    February 15, 2010

    speedweasel # 325
    ‘Stand people on a scale with their baggage and charge them based on the total weight they bring aboard the aircraft.’

    It happens. Sometimes, with small aircraft, where the weight is critical, everything that goes on board has to be weighed. I once checked in Elizabeth Taylor on a flight from London to Deauville in France, and we had to weigh her and her baggage. She was not too happy about that.

  333. #333 mwsletten
    February 15, 2010

    Rowen @328, wow, you really need to cut back on that caffeine…

    At any rate, although Mr. Smith did originally purchase two seats, according to SWA, he decided to change his plans and board an earlier flight to Burbank, which technically means he asked to fly standby. Once he changed flights, his purchase of two seats for the original flight became moot — different flight, comprende?

    (See how I said that calmly, without shouting?)

    When one flies ‘standby’ one is waiting for an available seat. In Mr. Smith’s case, he knew he would need two seats. The flight he attempted to board had only one remaining seat. With only one remaining seat — one he was unable to fit in without compromising the safety and/or comfort of adjacent passengers — he wasn’t allowed to fly. This chain of events occurred according to a policy Mr. Smith was perfectly of aware of.

    I’ll say it again, Mr. Smith got exactly what he paid for according to a policy he was aware of prior to the purchase of his ticket. SWA, according to the entry on its blog, made every effort to accommodate Mr. Smith’s decision to switch flights. It is not SWA’s fault the jet Mr. Smith wanted to fly on had only one seat left. Since he had booked another flight, SWA had no way of knowing it should keep two seats free on the flight Mr. Smith eventually attempted to board. SWA even gave Mr. Smith a voucher good for $100 towards the purchase of another ticket. This despite the fact that it had already made every effort to accommodate his changing travel plan.

    After reading the FAQs on SWA’s website, I know why Mr. Smith uses SWA. SWA not only allows larger passengers to purchase two tickets, it’s discount prices mean that two of its regular-fare tickets are often cheaper than one first-class ticket on most other airlines. Not only that, but if the flight isn’t overbooked at the time of the flight, SWA willingly refunds the cost of the second ticket, since the aircraft would have empty seats anyway. How cool is that?

    It seems to me Mr. Smith is ‘angry’ with an airline that bends over backwards to accommodate him. Its large-passenger seating policy is both generous and fair for those forced to purchase two tickets, while remaining sensitive to the right of ALL passengers to enjoy what little space and comfort is available to them.

    The more I read about it, the more distaste and distrust I feel for Mr. Smith’s motives.

  334. #334 David Marjanovi?
    February 15, 2010

    Lets face it, those seats are tiny. Even small people aren’t comfortable in them.

    That’s true, but, I mean, you evidently haven’t been to Paris. The seats in most Métro carriages are so narrow, and the rows so close together, that people only sit down next to each other when it starts to get crowded, and then it’s so tight that often I can’t open my bag and take something to read out, because that would require moving my elbows too much. For the record, there’s no fat on my ribcage, or basically anywhere else (1.75 m, 60 kg or less); and very few Parisians are fat.

  335. #335 Kel, OM
    February 15, 2010

    Who did?

    I did!

  336. #336 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    February 15, 2010

    So . . . RevBDC,

    Let’s say that I, as a tall person with broad shoulders, boards the plane on the C group. The only seat is right next to you, and probably a middle seat (C DOES stand for Center Seat!). I scoot over (probably having to step over you, if you’re in the aisle seat, since you’ve decided that since you’re sitting, you shouldn’t have to get up for us late-comers, and you are probably rolling your eyes and scowling the whole time.), and I take my seat. Since you’ve spread out in your seat, and the old lady sitting at the window has done the same, I try and hunch my shoulders in and even lean forward a bit while I spend the next 3 hours reading. Meanwhile, the guy in front of me has decided that he wants to nap and reclines his chair back. The teenage girl behind me has put down her tray table and put her head on it, stopping me from reclining my chair.

    I spend the next 3 hours in a weird sitting up, but hunched over position, getting glares from you and the old lady by the window every time my elbow or shoulders touch you. I can’t move, and at about 1.5 hours, I have to pee, but decide that getting you to move is gonna be more trouble then it’s worth.

    So, explain to me how charging ME more is a better idea when I’ve been trying to NOT “encroach” on everyone else’s space and end up having a completely miserable flight because YOU, the old woman, the guy in front and the teenage girl have all decided that since I’m the “big guy” that I’M the problem. This isn’t about 1/3 vs 2/3′s of a sandwhich.

    First of all, if you’re going to try and argue with me try to not assume anything about my behavior because you are 100% wrong. Thanks for even throwin’ in fun little bits like rolling my eyes, me not getting up to let you in out out of the isle or scowling etc. because it’s rubbish. I’m about the most polite person you’ll meet in real life and you making these types of assumptions exposes the fact that you aren’t interested in being accurate, just being angry.

    If anything I am overly accommodating to people at all times including those who are in the unfortunate position of having to be squeezed into those little fucking seats. I understand its no joy ride for anyone to have to deal with that on many fronts. But that doesn’t mean I don’t or can’t have an opinion like the one I’ve stated (and you spent a good long comment on misrepresenting or ignoring).

    That someone who is only taking up the allotted space in the seat is somehow the responsible party for dealing with another person encroaching (that was for badgersdaughter ;)) on their fully paid for and expected personal seating is my point. If the airlines made it clear that you are not paying for a seat of your own (and hell they might be doing this now it’s been a while since I last flew anywhere), like I made perfectly clear above if you care to go back, it would be a different situation. At no point did I blame Kevin Smith or anyone for their body size. My point was and always has been why the burden of sacrificing some of the value of their paid for seat should fall on the person who is not taking up more than the one seat.

    That is all.

    But please, build a giant imagined straw man of my behavior and light it ablaze (avoid doing this on a plane) to try and obscure my point and make me out to be someone who has a problem with larger people when it suits your little rant. I think my history here speaks for itself in these matters.

    You claim that the problem is actually with the airlines, but you spend a lot of time bitching about things being fair for you, since the “fatty” next to you is taking too much room, rather then bitch about the airlines, which makes me wonder.

    Yes I used the phrase “fatty” so much in this thread and elsewhere and made it a point to say it was all the larger person’s fault, that they could just stop eating or any of the other reasons given above. Oh wait, no I didn’t nor do I feel that way. Seriously, what are you going to accuse me of next sans any evidence whatsoever? Did you even read my comments of just felt like being a big internet hero and thinking you could join in some non existent dog pile?

    I said that the problem I have is that a person has a reasonable expectation to get what they paid for. In this case an airline seat of their own. If that is not what you are paying for, then let it be known and stated that you may have to share your seat with the person next to you.

    But selling a product and then after the fact saying Oh and by the way, you didn’t really buy what you thought you did is a problem.

    And that is my only issue. And in reality it’s not even a fucking big issue to me, I was just joining in the discussion.

    Seriously, if you want to accuse me of something try to have a modicum of intellectual honesty or at least read what the fuck I said.

    But please, go ahead and respond to me in a comment that will misrepresent myself or my opinion. It really makes me want to take you seriously.

  337. #337 bernieg2
    February 15, 2010

    @#317

    Every single person I know who is my age (64) does not smoke. I don’t know who you hang around with but obviously it is a group who must think it is “cool” to smoke. You must be too young to have seen all the cigarette company ads from the 50s and 60s showing how cool and sophisticated smokers are. When I was 9 years old (1954) I started smoking and didn’t stop until 23 years later. Sadly, back then, no one made fun of smokers, their bad breath, their stained fingers, their lack of physical stamina.

    What I don’t understand is what you are trying to say. Is it your contention that all your drug-addled, smoke-infested, alcoholic relatives suffered more from someone’s ridicule than they did from their bad habits?

    What, I should be polite around your dysfunctional relations and friends?

    What’s your real problem? You can tell me, no one else needs to know.

  338. #338 bluebottle11
    February 15, 2010

    Airline seats are also not created equal. Airlines can (and do) choose the seats they use and they vary not just between models of airliners, but between carriers on the same airplane model.

    You can see for yourself at seatguru.com.

    As a fat woman, I want to thank all who have defended us fatties from the bashers.

    - dwarf zebu

  339. #339 Josh, Official SpokesGay
    February 15, 2010

    Sadly, back then, no one made fun of smokers, their bad breath, their stained fingers, their lack of physical stamina.

    What I don’t understand is what you are trying to say. Is it your contention that all your drug-addled, smoke-infested, alcoholic relatives suffered more from someone’s ridicule than they did from their bad habits?

    What, I should be polite around your dysfunctional relations and friends?

    What’s your real problem? You can tell me, no one else needs to know.

    Go fuck yourself. Self-flagellating recovered anythings are the most obnoxious scumbags. How’s the ridicule working out for ya in public, when you do it to someone’s face? Huh? Bet it’s not so easy. The last person who pulled this shit with me in public earned himself the universal scorn of everyone in earshot, and left before he took more of a drubbing.

    What you’re doing isn’t “caring,” and it’s not “helping.” It’s self-centered, boorish, egotistical grandstanding designed to make you feel morally righteous. People recognize it for what it is.

  340. #340 SteveM
    February 15, 2010

    re 333:

    With only one remaining seat — one he was unable to fit in without compromising the safety and/or comfort of adjacent passengers — he wasn’t allowed to fly. This chain of events occurred according to a policy Mr. Smith was perfectly of aware of.

    Incorrect. How many times has it been stated, that by SWA’s own definition and policy, Smith was indeed able to fit into that seat. The whole point is that SWA was violating their own policy, not Smith.

    Smith buys two tickets because he wants to, not because SWA policy requires him to. Yes he is big, but not so big that he can’t fit in a single seat.

  341. #341 Ol'Greg
    February 15, 2010

    bernieg2 I’m in my mid-20s. I grew up with D.A.R.E and the scared straight program. Smoking indoors was already outlawed in my city for most of my life.

    There is a big difference between not glorifying something and going on a moral campaign to shame and hurt people.

    What I’m saying is that the shaming method simply doesn’t work. It hasn’t decreased unwanted behavior. It completely disregards most realistic life situations. It’s an idiot bigots tool for feeling good about yourself for being a destructive and abusive person while doing NOTHING produtive to solve the problems you whine about.

    For instance, are you at all moved by my complete contempt for you? But don’t I have a moral obligation to show you that contempt? Instead you ask me what my problem is when so clearly my problem is you!

    Now that’s not very effective is it? Maybe it’s just because it’s only me and it’s so easy to look down on me. But you see some one else has called you out too. Maybe there are more. Maybe if we got as many people as we could on this blog to tell you how stupid and annoying you are you would suddenly change your views. Do you think you would?

    Not likely though…

    And no, no one I know is so simplistic that they smoke because it’s cool. They had all sorts of reasons some of them good and some of them bad.

    I never smoked.

    I can tell you right now it isn’t because I was ashamed of anyone, just like I’m not no-a-junkie because I was ashamed. I’m not a junkie because despite it all I found value in myself and had dreams for better things.

    No amount shame is going to give that to anyone.

    I’m lashing out at you because you’re using a small-minded non-effective excuse to be, quite frankly, a general prick.

    If you’re interested in me search my posts. You’ll find all you need to and more.

    If you’d like to know more I’ll kindly email you the name by which you can google me at large.

    I’m public enough on this board, and I’m actually quite all right. I have a good life and a good job, so maybe some of my problem with you has to do with your comment’s incredible inanity than with the easy-to-recogize darkness in my past.

  342. #342 mwsletten
    February 15, 2010

    SteveM said: ‘…that by SWA’s own definition and policy, Smith was indeed able to fit into that seat.’

    According to the pilot on the flight, Mr. Smith did not meed SWA’s stated safe seating standards.

    SteveM said: ‘Smith buys two tickets because he wants to, not because SWA policy requires him to.’

    That is so ridiculous it is almost funny. Why would he buy two small SWA seats when he can buy one larger, more comfortable seat at a considerable savings on another airline?

    The reason is because individual SWA seats are cheaper than almost every other airline. Mr. Smith knows he cannot fit in one seat on SWA, so he buys two to guarantee he can board, but hopes the plane isn’t oversold so SWA will refund the cost of the second ticket according to its own policy.

    It’s a nice arrangement for both SWA and Mr. Smith, but one that Mr. Smith is apparently unsatisfied with.

  343. #343 bernieg2
    February 15, 2010

    @#329, I have no doubt that the vast majority of people flying if given the choice betweeen the following:
    1) a 300 pound hefto sitting in the seat next to them
    or
    2) an obnoxious asshole

    would pick me all the time.

    I don’t know you well enough to call you a douchebag even after a single comment. For example, you don’t know if I’m a trained clinical psychologist who knows for certain that 90% of American obesity would be eliminated if childhood obesity were ridiculed. Not because children would modify their behavior but because their parents would.

    You could have replied with arguments and links to show that perhaps I am wrong in my position, but no, the intellectual effort was too much, far easier to make outrageous claims about serial killers (which by the way almost all have low body mass, so they must have lost weight before they went on a killing spree, eh?) and call me names. Obviously no one in your household brought you up to have manners.

    I recall a story where a parent complained that a teacher gave her son a ‘C’ instead of a ‘B’ and the parent was upset not because a ‘B’ was deserved but because it made her son feel bad.

    The teacher’s correct response was that her job was not to make her son feel better, but to make her son do better.

    I see why most kids today can barely read or write or reply with cogent arguments. No one wants to make them feel bad. Goodness, no – we’ll end up with serial killers if we don’t make them feel good about themselves with grades they don’t deserve. No one should be made fun of.

  344. #344 Rowen
    February 15, 2010

    Ok, BDC, I made an assumption that you were like most of the other people I’ve come across who are bitching or have made my flights hell.

    But, still, answer me this question. As someone who has difficulty fitting in the seat, comfortably, through no fault of my own, why should I pay MORE because you MIGHT sit next to me and have one bad flight? I pay the same as you, and even when I do everything right, MOST of the trips I take are annoying, if not outright hellish.

  345. #345 Rowen
    February 15, 2010

    mwsletten,

    Yet, no one during the ENTIRE process of setting up the stand by ticket thought, “Hrm. he bought two tickets, and there’s one seat. . .and he’s realllllly fat. I should say something now before we decide to make a big scene on the plane.”

    Instead, they waited until the last minute, completely embarrassing him, and, from what he said, there were other folks on the plane who were as big or bigger who did not receive the same treatment.

  346. #346 Ol'Greg
    February 15, 2010

    For example, you don’t know if I’m a trained clinical psychologist who knows for certain that 90% of American obesity would be eliminated if childhood obesity were ridiculed.

    Childhood obesity *is* ridiculed. Profoundly. Any trained clinical psychologist would know that.

    As for the rest of your rant, sounds like those pesky kids need to stay off your lawn.

    Hey… the sword cuts both ways Mr. Judity-wugity.

  347. #347 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    February 15, 2010

    But, still, answer me this question. As someone who has difficulty fitting in the seat, comfortably, through no fault of my own, why should I pay MORE because you MIGHT sit next to me and have one bad flight? I pay the same as you, and even when I do everything right, MOST of the trips I take are annoying, if not outright hellish.

    And like I said, I have empathy for you. I’m not saying you should be paying more I’m only pissed that 1. Airlines don’t take the comfort of all their customers seriously 2. that as a paying customer I should be able to reasonably expect to get what I paid for, namely my own seat.

    It’s not the fault of the larger passenger, its the fault of the airline in a number of facets. The only thing that I can possibly see as being insensitive from my opinion is that I have a hard time understand how the burden (decreased value of their purchase, however small a decrease you choose to view it) should fall on the passenger who fits in the seats as they currently (fairly or unfairly) are constructed. If airlines would seat taller passengers in the “escape” row and wider passengers in bigger seats then it would be a better experience for all. Problem is, as airplanes are currently constructed there are only so many “tall” seats and no “wide” seats.

    Anyway, apology accepted and I offer mine for jumping all over you. I hope I’ve made myself marginally clear.

    Now I’m off to go stuff my face with some penne with fresh mozz and home made sausage.

  348. #348 Carlie
    February 15, 2010

    you don’t know if I’m a trained clinical psychologist who knows for certain that 90% of American obesity would be eliminated if childhood obesity were ridiculed.

    I’m not sure quite where you were going, because that’s such a profoundly stupid example of whatever it was that I couldn’t get past it. Do you think there has ever been a time when childhood obesity wasn’t ridiculed? Have you never read Judy Blume’s Blubber (originally published in 1974, long before this “obesity crisis” hit)?

  349. #349 Josh, Official SpokesGay
    February 15, 2010

    Ol’Greg:

    Looks like Judgity-Wudgity has been taking Onion news pieces as serious policy considerations:

    http://www.theonion.com/content/video/in_the_know_should_we_be_shaming

  350. #350 bernieg2
    February 15, 2010

    @Josh, Official SpokesGay

    If someone admonished you in public for smoking in a no-smoking area, I doubt that the person who earned universal scorn was the other guy. You are obviously in denial.

    What puzzles me is why you do not realize that a no-smoking sign means no smoking. Don’t you know that people who couldn’t care less about others or their comfort are self-centered, boorish, egotistical grandstanding designed to make them feel morally righteous.

    Some people recognize that.

  351. #351 Louis
    February 15, 2010

    I wonder if BernieG would stand up well to ridicule, or is the elderly knuckle dragger just yet another Internet Tough Guy (TM)?

    Either way, he’s whoring for clicks and/or trolling for yucks. Avoid his site like the plague. Straight after I went there I got an intrusion attempt on my PC. It might be linked, it might not be, I didn’t check it out very thoroughly. However, since the content I encountered there was asinine, simplistic crap, you won’t be missing much if you give it a precautionary bypass.

    Louis

  352. #352 Ol'Greg
    February 15, 2010

    Oh Josh! That is just too funny.

  353. #353 bernieg2
    February 15, 2010

    @#349, finally someone supplies a link as counter-argument. But after viewing it, it occurs to me that you posted it with the sole purpose of ridiculing my position. Are you trying to change my behavior by making fun of me?

  354. #354 Josh, Official SpokesGay
    February 15, 2010

    Judgity Wudgity:

    If someone admonished you in public for smoking in a no-smoking area, I doubt that the person who earned universal scorn was the other guy. You are obviously in denial.

    What puzzles me is why you do not realize that a no-smoking sign means no smoking.

    What the hell makes you think that was what happened? Why is your initial assumption that I was smoking in a no-smoking area? What the hell is wrong with you?

    That’s not what happened. Do you see how your moralistic crusade so infects your thinking that you just make stuff up?

  355. #355 Josh, Official SpokesGay
    February 15, 2010

    Whoops, blockquote fail.

  356. #356 Ol'Greg
    February 15, 2010

    http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/116/3/e389

    Here’s a link.

    I can get you some more if you’d like.

  357. #357 bernieg2
    February 15, 2010

    @351

    If you did visit my site you would notice that I allow comments opposing my views, no matter how egregious, no matter how defamatory, or how much I am ridiculed, to be posted. I figure if I can dish it out, I should be able to take it as well.

    As far as link whoring, in that one single link I originally left it point to an article wherein I am actually pointing to this site as a reference for a position I took. I don’t leave a link without giving a link.

  358. #358 luna-the-cat
    February 15, 2010

    Hmm, yeah, my mother who was on prednisone for severe arthritis was fat. OF COURSE she should have just eaten less and exercised more. With her severe rheumatoid arthritis (which started in her 30s). On a medication which makes weight loss damn near impossible.

    One of my friends has a severe form of Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. She’s terribly overweight. Odd, considering the chemo she’s been on keeps her from eating almost anything. OF COURSE she should just exercise it off, even though her joints dislocate when she walks! Crap, she’s been known to dislocate a shoulder by reaching down to pick something up off the floor. Exercise more. Yeah, great idea.

    My husband’s best friend is a really big guy as well. He’s been real serious about losing weight — he exercises constantly (he’s actually very fit, according to a mutual medical friend), he eats healthy food, and he’s gone on incredibly calorie-restricted diets — and he still weighs ~265, and according to his doctor is going to hurt himself if he tries to get thinner.

    To John Noble and the other dickwads who are being sanctimonious about how “weight is just a matter of willpower, eat less and exercise more”: Yeah, you know, this is undoubtedly true for some people. And you have no way of telling those from the people who have no choice.

    Unless you have some magical psychic power which tells you everyone’s medical history? No? Then you’re just for punishing everyone in the category, the perfectly innocent along with the people you morally disapprove of. Isn’t that nice of you.

  359. #359 bernieg2
    February 15, 2010

    What the hell makes you think that was what happened? Why is your initial assumption that I was smoking in a no-smoking area? What the hell is wrong with you?

    @354, you are right, I messed up. You quoted my remarks about smokers in comment #339 and then you began a rant about me being a self-flagellating recovered scumbag and then asked me “How’s the ridicule working out for ya in public, when you do it to someone’s face?” And I assumed you were still talking about me ridiculing smokers. My bad. I should have known you were talking about ridiculing Romanian midgets, am I right, am I right?

  360. #360 Louis
    February 15, 2010

    BernieG,

    I visited, I saw the crap you spouted and I left before I allowed you and it to waste a second more of my time. Life’s too short to spend correcting the endless, fractally wrong drivel of the eternally benighted.

    I merely posted because of the coincidental intrusion attempt on my PC.

    Louis

  361. #361 Josh, Official SpokesGay
    February 15, 2010

    My bad. I should have known you were talking about ridiculing Romanian midgets, am I right, am I right?

    You’re right; I was talking about you. Is it too much to hope for that you’ll step out of your comfort zone, take a look at the reaction you provoke, and see if people who find it obnoxious have a legitimate point? The fact that you had a readymade story about me that confirmed your prejudices, but that never really happened, ought to give you pause. It ought to make you question the way you approach this topic. We’re all guilty at some point or another of allowing our pet causes and prejudices to get in the way.

  362. #362 luna-the-cat
    February 15, 2010

    By the way, for you tall people with the crunched knees — I recommend the Knee Defender.

  363. #363 bernieg2
    February 15, 2010

    @356 I read the study – there is nothing there other than to show that Obesity is significantly related to experiences of shame.

    What you need to give me a link to, in order to show me wrong, is a study that shows that obesity levels among children stay the same or rise if the children are ridiculed or that compliments about their size lead to drastic weight reductions.

  364. #364 Carlie
    February 15, 2010

    bernieg2, you’re the one claiming that shame and ridicule makes kids lose weight, so you’re the one who has to show that shaming children works.

  365. #365 S.
    February 15, 2010

    Not a response to anyone in particular, and kinda long, but anyways.

    Without trying to sound like a Total Asshole:

    U.S.A: 2/3 of the population is at least fat; 1/3 is morbidly obese (and the stats are getting worse).
    The Internets: Getting more and more riled up when a larger person is treated poorly.
    Question: Even if we don?t like inequality or prejudice (annnd we don?t), is it possible that we?re becoming a little TOO accepting of obesity?

    OK, so anecdote =/= data, but the last time a friend forced me into a Walmart, I saw NOT ONE! Not TWO! Not even THREE! But SEVEN PEOPLE so morbidly obese they had to use those automatic chair-cart things to get around. The last time I was on a plane, I was *the only* person in *three rows* of seats who wasn?t uncomfortable in my chair due to weight issues (I just barely miss the over-weight measurement for my height, too). The last time I went to an Olive Garden, no joke, I saw only one other table where the group was composed of individuals who were mostly my size or smaller.

    When I see someone who is larger than I am, I don?t *really* care. So what? I don?t know what makes that particular person bigger than me. But in the aggregate, we?re getting larger and larger and larger, and we are getting more and more accepting of that. This can?t POSSIBLY all be caused by genetics (at least not in the way my mother?s diet books understand genetics? its like ?The Secret? bred with a confused dietician), by modern medicine, or by disease. Ain?t happenin. No freaking way. Not when, if I throw a party, I can pretty much 90% accurately predict who will eat what and how much based on what they already weigh. Not when, at the Olive Garden I cited earlier, the people at nearly every table (but mine and the one full of other ?average? people) ate a full 3 course menu, little to no sharing, no doggie bags. Not when, if you go to the grocery store in my relatively affluent town, most people are buying soda and popsicles and candy bars, and have a token vegetable or two stuffed in their carts (along with a couple pounds of meat).

    If we put the blame on the shifts in our culture, our relationship with food and free time, great. We have an actual, valid argument. But even IF we grant that people don?t have the time to cook, the time to exercise, the time to relax and make healthy choices, we can?t pretend that people don?t have SOME free will and SOME choice. If food companies begin to make smaller, pre-packaged portion sizes, offer healthier versions of their current choices, etc., that?s great and helps us, and we should encourage that (and many companies ARE trying, no thanks to The Internets?see Coke?s attempts at putting out a new can). We might also want to raise enough of a stink that SOME airline company (even if it?s not SW) thinks to come up with an innovative, industry-changing seating alternative for all of us and our various sizes and seating issues.

    But even if, magically, none of us had problems with larger individuals, even if we all realize that shaming is more hurtful than helpful, etc., at what point can we get realistic about size and health? I mean, we?re kidding ourselves if we overlook obesity trends just because we ?know a guy? or are ?related to a guy? or ?are the guy? who is fat due to health issues. And we?re kidding ourselves that just because we ?know a guy?/?are the guy? we should always be nice and companies should be inclusive and governments should help us and so on and so forth. After a certain point, healthier people *WILL* be punished by the rules, regulations and costs built in to saving our society from becoming fat, and we *WILL* all become fatter because it is *the norm.* Heck, in 2020, we might be having this whole ?airline seat? issue all over again, except maybe the seats will already be 3? wide!

    So seriously, when does being all-inclusive and supportive of weight start hurting instead of helping?

  366. #366 Peter G.
    February 15, 2010

    If I’m getting the sense of your argument bernieg2 the absence of a link invalidates any argument put forward. Very curious logic that. Feel free to post a link to any article in any journal of psychology that promotes ridicule as a treatment for modifying behavior. I hope to hell you never had the chance to practice your beliefs on any children. Having reviewed your comments here I believe I can honestly say I’ve never met a more perfect asshole than you anywhere on the internet. Behold Abou-ben-asshole’s name led all the rest!

  367. #367 Ol'Greg
    February 15, 2010

    This might be more up your alley.

    http://www.biomedcentral.com/1741-7015/7/46/abstract

    No one has ever made a claim that compliments relate to drastic weight reduction but you in your own logical fallacy.

    As for the prior article:

    “These results suggest that clinical treatment of obesity may sometimes not just be a matter of diet and exercise but also of dealing with issues of shame and social isolation.”

    Let me help you. The shame wasn’t helping the kids lose any weight. It’s one of the factors and is suggested as one of the factors to be dealt with in order to help the kids be healthier.

  368. #368 Pygmy Loris
    February 15, 2010

    Has anyone seen the first class “suites” United offers? Here a link.

    Wow! For the low, low price of jsut $10,000 for a transatlantic round-trip.

  369. #369 Ol'Greg
    February 15, 2010

    “Because negative weight perceptions are particularly common among young adolescent white females,17-21 it is not surprising that young obese adolescent white females show the lowest levels of global self-esteem.”

    “These data also demonstrate significant social consequences of decreasing self-esteem in obese children. Obese children with decreasing levels of self-esteem showed significantly elevated levels of loneliness, sadness, and nervousness. Although these effects ere not unique for obese children, they are nevertheless quite important, because nearly 70% of white and Hispanic obese females demonstrated decreasing levels of self-esteem by early adolescence.

    Obese children with falling self-esteem are also more likely to engage in high-risk behaviors such as smoking and alcohol consumption. Jackson previously has reported that low levels of self-esteem were correlated with initiation of tobacco and alcohol use among 4th to 6th grade students.25 Similar findings have been reported by Abernathy et al,26 Boptvin et al,27 and Murphy et al,28 but not Michell et al.29 These findings are particularly important because Ryan and colleagues30 have reported that adolescent girls often use smoking as a means to control their weight. For this reason, the Expert Committee on Childhood Obesity has recommended that smoking cessation needs to be an integral part of childhood obesity treatment.31 In addition, up to 50% of obese adolescents who drink alcohol have abnormal liver enzyme levels.32

    And yet more to suggest that decreasing some one’s self esteem leads to worse consequences such as smoking and drinking. Not a positive shift towards healthy weight loss at all.

    http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/105/1/e15

  370. #370 RamziD
    February 15, 2010

    Well put, S, at #365.

    Surely some people cannot fully control their weight, but most can, and you’d be fooling yourself if you think otherwise.

  371. #371 Ol'Greg
    February 15, 2010

    Feel free to post a link to any article in any journal of psychology that promotes ridicule as a treatment for modifying behavior.

    Excellent point. I’ll ask the same of S. at @365.

    Please point me to a study that suggests that obesity is O.K. because I find your claim silly.

    I don’t hear anything in popular culture except maby Beth Ditto that says anything but fat = worst thing ever.

    And yes, in my heart of hearts I consider myself fat although I know many women would love to be “fat the way that I am fat” as I might say.

  372. #372 Dianne
    February 15, 2010

    Surely some people cannot fully control their weight, but most can, and you’d be fooling yourself if you think otherwise.

    On the contrary, you’re fooling yourself if you think that anyone can fully control their weight. Studies of weight loss dieting have been, almost universally, failures. Even more extreme measures such as bariatric surgery are successful in only a minority of cases. It’s easier to stop smoking-cold turkey without wellbutrin or nicotine withdrawal products-than to lose significant amounts of weight.

    Just to give one example, this study found very few correlations between dietary habits and body habitus.

  373. #373 Carlie
    February 15, 2010

    S.: Please explain how charging fat people more for airplane tickets makes them somehow able to lose weight in a way that their lifelong experiences with such things as being 1. humiliated, 2. socially rejected, 3. unable to buy decent clothes in any store, 4. unable to buy or eat food without getting withering stares and comments, 5. unable to ride on amusement park and other rides, 6. mistreated by doctors who refuse to treat them for anything until they lose weight, and 7. charged more for health insurance even if all of their other health indicators are fine and 8. told to lose weight by almost everyone they encounter has somehow not managed to do. I can’t wait to hear how adding on this one extra penalty on top of all of the others is going to magically take care of the terrible problem that some people are starting to treat obese people like they’re actual humans instead of remembering to properly denigrate them at every single opportunity.

  374. #374 Ol'Greg
    February 15, 2010

    Ugh I did that stupid spelling of maybe. I so need to get off of explorer over here.

  375. #375 RamziD
    February 15, 2010

    Dianne at #372: You’re right, “fully control” was not the best way to phrase it. Too absolutist. I still think most people have a significant amount of control over their weight, and everyone’s genetics permit control to a certain degree. I bet the 400+ pounders on “The Biggest Loser” (you may not know what I’m talking about if you’re not American) were told by many, and convinced themselves, that they just had bad genetics… until they lost half their body weight. Yeah, I know it’s an extreme example b/c not everybody can go through the amount of structured diet and exercise that they get on the show, but it shows that people oftentimes have more control over the situation than they’d like to think.

    Carlie at #371: where exactly did S say that obesity was OK?

  376. #376 Antiochus Epiphanes
    February 15, 2010

    Even if we don?t like inequality or prejudice (annnd we don?t), is it possible that we?re becoming a little TOO accepting of obesity?

    I don’t gasp and frown at every perceived personal flaw. Fact is, I’m going to continue to be completely accepting of obesity, and scrawniness, body odor, smoking, drinking, unusual sexual practices, tooth fucking decay, dandruff, camel-toe, PDA, nose-pinking, loud-eating, stuttering, mouth-breathing, clammy hands, ear hair, large pores, slovenly appearances, inappropriate grimacing, twitching, burping, flatus, scratching, or whatever the hell it is that people do voluntarily or involuntarily that has not a goddamned thing to do with me. As it turns out, God has not appointed me king Dilrod of Douche Mountain (although I was granted an interview, and I think I was competitive).

    I understand that some people just have to have their space, which is fine with me too-just like being fat is. However, I see a solution. Why can’t the airline extend the privilege to the other passengers on the plane to trade seats with the aggrieved neighbor of whichever fat person is there? Why not ask “Hey, this person going to make you uncomfortable” “Yes?” “Anybody willing to trade seats with this aggrieved man/woman”. In a crowded-ass plane, my bet is that someone would be willing to accommodate. Doesn’t this just make sense? Rely on the kindness of those who would not be so aggrieved. No one gets bumped off the plane, and everyone gets a seat that they can be happy with.

    If someone were willing to trade you seats, would you still be so steamed by the perceived spillage of cellulite into your rightfully purchase space?

    I would gladly have changed places with whomever was sitting next to Kevin Smith, as long as he kept up the Silent Bob bit, and that good-for-nothing Jay was not sitting on the other side of me.

  377. #377 Ol'Greg
    February 15, 2010

    Carlie at #371: where exactly did S say that obesity was OK?

    Not Carlie and Carlie didn’t post 371, I did.

    However, no S did not say that but rather S is railing against this imagined popularized concept that obesity is OK which I have not seen except maybe in the rare instance of trying to tell a fat person that they aren’t the fail to end all fail.

    It seems that showing any sense of human dignity and empathy is far too “encouraging” for those lazy fat bastards, right?

  378. #378 strange gods before me ?
    February 15, 2010
  379. #379 Sven DiMilo
    February 15, 2010

    ooo, nice OM, man.
    wish I’d thought of it, damnit!

  380. #380 strange gods before me ?
    February 15, 2010

    I found it accidentally. Hail Unicode.

  381. #381 alexrkr7
    February 15, 2010

    ilgreven #126, out of context that would be pretty bad. Luckily I wrote it in context, huh!?

    A person in a wheel chair can’t go up a flight of stairs, a morbidly obese person can’t fit in an airplane seat. Not the buildings or the the planes fault. And if a building can’t incorporate an elevator then they can’t do it. Just like if an airline can’t afford to change every seat on the plane and lose tickets per plane/flight/year then they shouldn’t have to.

    And of course I was talking about accommodating people, not deciding whether or not to give them the rights others have.

  382. #382 Carlie
    February 15, 2010

    And if a building can’t incorporate an elevator then they can’t do it.

    And then they’d be out of ADA compliance code.

  383. #383 mwsletten
    February 15, 2010

    Rowen @ 345, you seem to have pretty intimate knowledge of exactly what happened. I assume you are going on more than Mr. Smith’s account?

  384. #384 Carlie
    February 15, 2010

    …because the thing is, the building and the airplane are designed and built by people, and if those people are halfway decent at their jobs, they would design in such a way that would account for the fact that not every person is built exactly the same way. Something that is built for public access, like statehouse buildings or buses or planes, are only built correctly if they actually allow all of the public in. Otherwise they are telling large swaths of people that they don’t deserve to use the same buildings and airplanes that the pretend “standard” people do. It really doesn’t take that much more thought, effort, or cost to make things accessible if it’s planned that way from the beginning.

  385. #385 TimKO,,.,,
    February 15, 2010

    If his podcast is truthful, and he had paid for the extra seat, then Smith was kicked off for being unruly. He got pissed off when the sky-waitress called him out (which wouldn’t normally happen because he normally flies in two, wide 1st class seats). So, no, he is not too fat for the sky, PZ; there’s more truth to this than is implied. He objected when the girl next to him was asked to pay for a seat that he had already paid for. Sounds like he’s just milking some media fodder and having some twittering fun.

    I don’t “side” with anybody on this light-news tidbit but I do know that Smith has gained a lot since that pic was taken. He’s probably destroyed his health (he references his attitude about it in his appearances).

    Somehow, kicking off a passenger who is trying to use reason and logic is supposed to protect us from terrorism. But it’s not terrorism that has ruined flying for many of us, it’s the pointless rules and regs. Mass transportation will always be risky. Terrorism will happen regardless. I say repeal many of the regs, make flying fun and cheap again or build some freaking rail already.

    @28
    You’re not doing the math right. If you have 4 rows with 4 seats each, that’s 16 seats sold (let’s say at $100 per). If 3 people are wide, they have to buy one extra (empty flying) seat each, with it still equaling 16 seats sold =$1600. But if you have 3 rows with 4 seats and the last row has 3 extra width seats, and you charge the 3 wide people the double rate, you have 4x3x100 + 3×200 = $1800.

  386. #386 kalyneadie
    February 16, 2010

    After listening to the podcast, I have to say my sympathies are absolutely with Kevin on this one. To be clear, it seems to me that he is not upset because of the policy itself but because of the way it was enforced. SWA has a potentially discriminatory policy that seems to be enforced in a decidedly discriminatory and arbitrary way designed to further shame and humiliate a group of people who are already crapped on plenty by our society.
    To those above who are arguing over whose responsibility it is to bear the burden of accomodation – did it ever occur to you that it might be the airline’s? That is the rationale behind the ‘one passenger, one ticket’ approach in Canada – the airlines have to deal with the fact that, on request, they have to provide extra space for those who need it by not overbooking flights, etc. (yes I realize that in the real world this means that everyone pays a bit more for their ticket but is that really so awful?)
    Why on earth are we so willing to accept that a corporation’s desire to protect the bottom line is an acceptable reason for treating people like crap? Why is it okay to further marginalize some members of an already despised group of people by demanding that they pay twice as much for the ‘privilege’ of getting on a plane? Basically we are saying only rich fat people should be allowed to fly. That is not okay with me.

  387. #387 deriamis
    February 16, 2010

    I think people are missing the point here, which is that Kevin Smith agreed to the policy and followed it for quite some time. It was in his interest because he wanted to be comfortable, and it was in Southwest’s interest because it contributed to the safety and comfort of their passengers. Also, Southwest has a policy of refunding BOTH seats when arrangements are changed, which is unique to them – most other airlines who have this policy (and most do) only refund one of the seats.

    The snag here was that Kevin Smith changed his itinerary and the result of that was only one seat was left for him to take, which would have violated the policy Southwest had instituted and which Kevin Smith had voluntarily agreed to. And it’s not like Southwest behaved like asses, either – they accommodated him on a later flight and gave him compensation for the inconvenience.

    It might not have been a completely agreeable resolution, but they certainly weren’t applying a draconian and judgmental policy at a whim and taking an “or else” stance with it, as some people commenting seem to think they were. It’s also probably true that apologies shouldn’t have justifications; then again, it’s not completely clear that Southwest had any obligation whatsoever to apologize either publicly or in private. What is clear is that Southwest felt the need to conduct damage control on their public image because a cheesed-off celebrity used his people power against them despite his implicit acceptance of the consequences he encountered.

    In any case, it’s fairly clear that a lot of people who have commented on this issue have no idea of the history of Southwest Airlines. If you actually lived in the Houston area, you would know that the company is one of the few airlines out there that still gives two shits about their customers and works to keep them comfortable. They’re also one of the few airlines that still gives two shits about their employees and that’s one of the reasons hundreds of jobs still exist in this area – because Southwest tries to keep people working despite not making as much money as they once did. About the last thing they (and we) need is a bunch of people creating problems over a non-issue like this.

    It’s Kevin Smith’s choice to be the size that he is, or it’s possible that he has no choice in the matter at all. It’s true that he should not be judged on the basis of his size. It’s also true that he agreed to the policy in place – a policy which has benefits for passengers and airline. Why people want to make more of this I have no idea.

  388. #388 deriamis
    February 16, 2010

    Oh, and shame on you, PZ, for continuing this debacle. Kevin Smith was not disallowed from flying on the airline – he was required to follow a policy to which he had agreed and benefited from for some time. While I certainly would not mind someone of his size sitting next to me, that isn’t at all the point. What is the point is that Kevin Smith previously agreed to the policy with which he now takes issue, and the only difference between now and then is that it suddenly became inconvenient. If he had a point to make about the policy (and I would agree that it should be discussed), he certainly isn’t the one to make it. This isn’t the simple Lone Man vs. Evil, Faceless Corporation you make it out to be.

  389. #389 ettigram
    February 16, 2010

    well, it used to be that everyone was to have 15 minutes of fame…now they can impose one and a half hour of “ranting” and media coverage!
    one goes by the rules and does not change the rules for (self)publicity or has the common denominator (as usual the lowest)become the RULE?

  390. #390 les.gates
    February 16, 2010

    I’m 6’8″ and three quarters. That’s 2.05m for those of us that use a useful system of measurement.

    All of you people that have moaned about tall people disturbing your flight – get over it. You have no idea. Seriously, you have no idea. It’s not like, as one person suggested, us tall people can all afford to upgrade to business class. Simply not an option. What then? Should we not be allowed to travel like the rest? I really do feel for overweight people, but I refuse to be categorized into the same basket of ‘problem travelers’. I have no option. None. Amputation maybe?
    I had one flight where I LITERALLY did not fit in the normal seat. My knees were jammed against the seat in front and my ass was still 6′ off the seat. I had to spend the entire 4 hour flight in the crew seat which has zero padding and is bolt upright.
    Most airlines I can (just) jam myself into the normal seats but in all honesty, it’s pretty much not going to happen. For long haul I request the exit-rows. Getting these seats never used to be a problem, however now that airlines are struggling they are starting to charge passengers for the privilege. I refuse to pay. It’s not my fault that I can’t fit in their normal seats. It’s not like I can do anything about it. Honestly the stress of it all drives me nuts.

    My recent trip London to Auckland (25 hours) was a good case in point. There were only 4 exit-row seats in economy – total. The check-in guy ended up having to BEG a couple of guys that were booked into those seats to swap with myself and my fiance. Thankfully they were nice guys and understood when they saw me. But the other two people in the exit-row on that plane? Both were under 5’10″. They didn’t need those seats.
    For the return leg I had to pull some enormous strings to guarantee I’d get exit-row. It was fortunate enough that my future brother-in-law used to work for AirNZ, and knew personally the head of long-haul.

    Stress, embarrassment, and begging shouldn’t be mandatory to get a seat you actually fit in.

    Rant over.

    Oh, btw. Apologies to whoever gets to sit in front of me on a plane. Because you wont be able to recline your seat do to my knees being jammed up against it.

    Cheers

  391. #391 Eidolon
    February 16, 2010

    les.gates@390

    I note that you refuse to pay for the extra space you would gain from an exit row seat. Since that is your decision, it seems that your discomfort is of your own making. IIRC, it’s not a huge amount of money, nothing like an upgrade, so perhaps the real issue is how tightly you clench your wallet.

  392. #392 Carlie
    February 16, 2010

    kalyneadie – that’s exactly what I was trying to get at.

    We gave airlines 15 billion dollars in 2001 in direct cash and subsidies. We continue to give them annual subsidies that amount to thousands of dollars per person to serve rural areas. They are, in a real and tangible way, beholden to the citizens of the country – when you take federal tax money, you lose the right to pick and choose which citizens you offer your services to. Again, that’s what’s going on with Canada; the business model simply incorporates that each person might give the airline a slightly different amount of profit even up to having an additional free seat for an aide, but the airlines have to deal with it as a condition of getting all of the profits for a particular kind of travel in the first place along with government subsidies – not a bad tradeoff, honestly. For a group of people that usually tend more towards the liberal/socialist side of things, there’s a surprising amount of Republicanthink going on with respect to airline companies here.

  393. #393 Carlie
    February 16, 2010

    les.gates, you may be tall, but the point still flew right over your head. The point of bringing tall people into the discussion is that your entire rant is identically true for fat people.

    Because this: “I really do feel for overweight people, but I refuse to be categorized into the same basket of ‘problem travelers’. I have no option. None. Amputation maybe?”

    is just as true for the fat person who is on antipsychotic medication and has osteoarthritis with emphysema. What’s their option to lose weight, besides not eating at all? And then of course it will still be a year or two of starvation and no travel before they lose enough to be that perfect seat size, if they don’t end up in the hospital first.

    And if you want to somehow separate that person from the one who “really could lose weight if they want to”, that would require every passenger divulging their entire medical health history to a fucking airline just to see if they make the cut for a cheaper ticket, and that’s a privacy violation that is utterly ridiculous for any individual to make just for the sake of a private airline company to determine how much profit they can wring out of that particular customer (particularly since that airline has already taken some of that person’s paycheck as a federal subsidy).

  394. #394 pistoreyu
    February 16, 2010

    Carlie at #348:

    “Do you think there has ever been a time when childhood obesity wasn’t ridiculed? Have you never read Judy Blume’s Blubber (originally published in 1974, long before this “obesity crisis” hit)?”

    Billy Bunter is an earlier example.

  395. #395 Louis
    February 16, 2010

    @ SGBM #378,

    Thanks very much indeed!

    (Already running Norton, so nothing went wrong, but it’s always good to have MORE POWER!!!)

    Louis

  396. #396 Endor
    February 16, 2010

    Carlie – if you don’t have an OM, you deserve one. After dealing with this deluge of bigotted stupidity, you deserve millions of dollars of fabulous prizes.

  397. #397 mwsletten
    February 16, 2010

    Carlie @384, but it is accessible. SWA has made flying accessible to anyone capable of climbing aboard the jet under his/her own power — it just costs more if you need more than one seat.

    I know I’ve hammered this point several times, but you have yet to address it. You seem to think everyone should feel obliged to give up some of their seat space to larger people sitting next to them. I’m asking what you consider fair? How much space should I feel obliged to give up? Is there any portion of my seat space that cannot be considered ‘community’ seating? When is it appropriate for me to complain? If the person seated next to me takes one-fourth of my seat? One-third? One-half?

    kalyneadie @386 said: ‘SWA has a potentially discriminatory policy that seems to be enforced in a decidedly discriminatory and arbitrary way designed to further shame and humiliate a group of people who are already crapped on plenty by our society.’

    That is total bullshit. SWA’s seating policies are clearly outlined on its website — it cannot be any less arbitrary. SWA encourages anyone who believes they may not fit in a single seat to purchase two ahead of time specifically to avoid potentially embarrassing public discussions about one’s ‘size.’ Their policy even includes a refund if the extra seat isn’t needed. SWA has made every possible accommodation short of modifying an entire fleet of aircraft at a stupefyingly enormous cost.

    Mr. Smith can spin the situation however he wishes, but SWA has gone out of its way to provide a humane and fair way to allow people too large to fit in a single seat to fly. He could easily have managed the situation to avoid a conflict with SWA’s policy, of which he was well aware.

    He changed his travel plans at the last moment. He attempted to board a jet with a single seat knowing he wouldn’t meet the standard. In agreeing to place himself in that situation, Mr. Smith was completely aware that the final decision regarding his safety and that of his fellow passengers rested with the pilot in command of the jet, and that a potentially embarrassing public discussion regarding his size might occur. That he had purchased two seats for the original flight demonstrated he knows he can’t fit in a single seat — why would he expect a pilot to make a different judgment call?

    BTW, his suggestion he routinely purchases two seats ‘for his own comfort’ makes no sense to me. If he feels he needs two seats to be comfortable, then it’s obvious he needs two seats for his seat mates to be comfortable as well.

    Blaming SWA for Mr. Smith’s choices is bassackward.

  398. #398 Carlie
    February 16, 2010

    Thanks Endor. :) I do have one, but not millions of dollars of prizes. I will say that just about everything I’m saying here I learned from elsewhere over the last few years, which is part of a larger point. It’s easy and natural to be judgmental and see certain things as completely obvious (like “they’re squishing in my seat so they should have to pay more”); it takes a hell of a lot of work to dissect that, realize what the basis of that attitude is, look at things from the perspective of the other person, and then from there look more broadly how that’s a result of the way society is set up and whether that’s good for us as a whole.

    It’s part of a much larger picture – do we want to be the kind of society that forces everyone who is outside the norm to work harder to keep up, or do we want to be the kind of society that doesn’t begrudge that help to people who need extra assistance? It comes out in all sorts of ways: a student grumbling that another student gets extra time on an exam because they have an LD, someone griping about who does and doesn’t get to park in the handicapped spots closer to the door, a city council complaining that they have to put in an elevator so that someone in a wheelchair can make their court session, etc.

    I know my examples get dangerously close to the idea of fat being a disability, which is a classification I’m entirely against. However, what I am saying is that I’d rather be in a society where we accommodate people’s physical needs as much as possible without using it as an excuse to then micromanage their behavior and lives, because privacy is important too. Might I then end up paying an extra $20 in either my taxes or on my plane ticket because someone else had the temerity to eat double-chocolate Milanos as a coping mechanism during times of stress? Yeah. I’m willing to pay that to live in a society that is less judgmental and nosy and more pleasant to be in, same as I’m willing to pay more in taxes so that people can have affordable healthcare even if they drink and smoke, same as I think welfare benefits shouldn’t be tied to drug tests. That’s because I’m more of a socialist than a libertarian. I understand that other people don’t share that opinion, but I want to be sure that they understand the underpinnings of their knee-jerk reaction of “if you don’t fit the standard then you should pay more” and that it has a lot of other ramifications they may not have thought of.

    Damn, I sound sanctimonious. I’ll just go off in the corner and sing Kumbaya to myself for awhile.

  399. #399 Carlie
    February 16, 2010

    Sorry mwsletten, I was composing and didn’t see your comment. I think I did address this, though:
    ” but it is accessible. SWA has made flying accessible to anyone capable of climbing aboard the jet under his/her own power — it just costs more if you need more than one seat.”

    That then depends on your definition of accessible. People paying more for the same transportation based on characteristics of their body isn’t equal access. I see two options: either the model is pay for space used, in which case everyone has to pay for exactly the space they take up, or pay for transport, in which case everyone pays the same rate for the same distance of travel. I like the second option, but the first would be acceptable as long as it applies equally to everyone – so far it’s being applied only to people whose bodies are taking up space in one particular dimension, and that’s what I see as unequal and unfair access.

    “I know I’ve hammered this point several times, but you have yet to address it. You seem to think everyone should feel obliged to give up some of their seat space to larger people sitting next to them.”

    I just think that’s the nicest way to deal with it given the situation we have now; as I said, I’d much rather this be addressed at a higher level of policy and infrastructure.

  400. #400 deriamis
    February 16, 2010

    @les.gates #390: Then you will be happy to know that Southwest does not charge for the privilege of sitting in the exit row. They do charge for custom seating arrangements, like the ability to pick out a specific seat after a certain point in the ticketing process, but not specifically an exit row seat. However, if you buy your tickets far enough in advance, you shouldn’t have a problem getting the seat you need – just like everyone else.

    @Carlie #393: Southwest did not need to accept that increased assistance, and they did not; instead, they asked their employees to take a voluntary pay cut and they started using funds they set aside for such a rainy day. Unlike most airlines, Southwest already knows how up-and-down the business can be so they prepared ahead of time for it. Also, what does it say about a company where employees did not hesitate to take a voluntary pay cut to save its future? Besides which, you missed the part where that subsidy was identified as being for essential flights to rural areas. This flight did not qualify.

    Also, while you correctly point out that the discussion here is about large people in general on airlines, you miss the overriding point that Kevin Smith has no moral authority to express outrage at what happened. He knew about it and complied with it. If there is a point to be made, it’s that the policy may be too restrictive and has no grey areas. While a person like Kevin Smith may be able to sit in only one seat with relative comfort, or a person like les.paul may be able to sit comfortably in the exit row, your argument does not address persons who truly are too large for the airplane. In case you did not know, the weight distribution in an airplane is extremely important to the pilot’s job of flying the jet safely. This isn’t a case of discrimination so much as it is a case of a policy that needs to be rewritten in order to discriminate more appropriately.

    @Endor #396: Being loud and ranting about a topic with which you identify doesn’t make a person relevant. There’s more (and less) going on here than you seem to understand. Go educate yourself on weight distribution on aircraft to see why transporting obese persons is a safety issue for airlines. You’re also missing the point that people do not have an inherent right to fly on a plane; if a person is too much oversized, they simply must realize that they either have to lose weight (if possible) or understand the safety issues involved.

    And no, being overweight is not the same as being black or female when it comes to discrimination. Being overweight is not a fundamentally intrinsic characteristic of most people. This is not like saying “niggers to the back of the bus” or “girls not allowed”. This is a company that is attempting to ensure the safety and comfort of its passengers by implementing and enforcing a necessary policy. The fact that the policy might need a revisit doesn’t change the fact that the company has a perfect right and a legitimate reason to have it in place.

    @mwsletten #397: I agree with your points, but I would argue that we need to learn to deal with people larger-sized than ourselves in these situations and do what we can to accommodate them. In this case, however, SWA did do exactly that, and Kevin Smith is just shooting his mouth off to please himself. The swooning dramaphiles around here that come to the defense of anyone when a Mean Mr. Bad Guy is identified are willfully misunderstanding the issues involved and are engaging in masturbatory rants against discrimination.

  401. #401 mwsletten
    February 16, 2010

    Carlie @399 said: ‘I just think [being obliged to give up seat space to other passengers is] the nicest way to deal with it given the situation we have now;’

    Ok, how much seat space should one be obliged to give up to a seat mate? A quarter? A third? Half? When would it be appropriate to complain? Should the government make it a requirement or should it be voluntary? And what of a situation where a passenger already fills his/her seat and has no spare seat space? Must the airlines shuffle passenger seating to fit everyone in?

    If the airline is obliged to play passenger shuffle to ‘fit’ everyone in, how is that handled? Wouldn’t this create more potentially ‘embarrassing’ situations than simply requiring the purchase of an additional seat?

    In an earlier post you suggested you would be willing to bear the costs (Monetary? Societal? Political?) required to institute the kind of ‘higher level policy and infrastructure’ changes necessary to meet an ultimate goal of accommodating persons of every size on a flight. What if the costs were extreme? Is there a limit to the size of people we should accommodate? The tallest man in the world is some eight-and-a-half feet tall. Bearing in mind the cabin height for most commercial aircraft averages some six feet, should ALL commercial aircraft be designed to accommodate him?

  402. #402 Carlie
    February 16, 2010

    Besides which, you missed the part where that subsidy was identified as being for essential flights to rural areas. This flight did not qualify.

    I didn’t miss it, nor did I say that it was a subsidy for that flight. Perhaps I should have spelled it out more clearly, though: the federal government has set a precedent of declaring that air travel, rather than being a luxury, has in fact become a necessity to the point that they will hand over taxpayer money for airlines to service areas that are not profitable. In point of fact, this subsidy does set the precedent that people have an inherent right to fly on a plane and shouldn’t be penalized for it based on where they live, contrary to your statement that “You’re also missing the point that people do not have an inherent right to fly on a plane”. I’m simply saying that if the government isn’t willing to allow airlines to restrict air travel based on where someone lives, then being willing to restrict it based on an individual’s body size isn’t based on anything other than prejudice against body size.

    In case you did not know, the weight distribution in an airplane is extremely important to the pilot’s job of flying the jet safely.

    Depends on the plane. A 747 has a takeoff weight of 875,000 pounds. A Kevin Smith in one row isn’t going to affect the balance much. Smaller planes are a different story, but again the policy is being applied across the board no matter what the plane size.

  403. #403 badgersdaughter
    February 16, 2010

    mwsletten, any reasonable person would think you were far more inconvenienced (in terms of time, effort, and stress) by pressing this issue than you would be by simply sitting next to someone who you feel uncomfortable sitting next to. You remind me of someone vehemently protesting gay rights because they fear their own latent homosexuality. What’s really going on here? Bad body image? Uncertain of your own sexual attractiveness? Afraid fat will rub off on you if you sit too close to a fat person?

  404. #404 mwsletten
    February 16, 2010

    badgersdaughter, I guess since you can’t attack the argument you must attack the person. I especially like the way you threw in the ‘any reasonable person’ measure. That’s particularly rich coming from the side of the debate that argues against the application of standards.

    ‘What is going on’ is I happen to have a bit of free time, and I see this as a misguided crusade to bash one of the few companies in a failing industry still generating a profit and supporting our struggling economy. The only rational solutions to the situation so far offered that don’t include one passenger being forced to give up paid-for seat space would place such an incredibly large economic hardship on SWA it would almost certainly result in its bankruptcy.

    I wonder how many of SWA’s customers don’t actually meet its safe/comfortable seating policy? I wonder exactly what percentage of people whose inconvenience is causing so much distress. What percentage of people would require such drastic changes?

    SWA is successful precisely because it develops and enforces policies — like the one Mr. Smith and many in this debate are deriding — that benefits the vast majority of its customers. It found a safe, fair and discreet way — assuming all parties act in good faith — to meet certain customers’ needs without interfering with other customers’ rights. And because a single customer didn’t like the outcome of a situation resulting solely from his own poor decisions, the crusaders are out to lynch one of the best airline companies the industry has ever seen. Indeed, one of the biggest commercial success stories in our nation’s history.

    SWA is a successful company in a highly-competitive market, a market which produces more than its fair share of failures. I defend SWA because I admire its commitment to its customers (all of its customers), its creativeness in finding fair solutions for special circumstances and its ability to stay competitive in a rapidly-changing industry despite economic incentives prompting many other companies to offer less while charging more for same service.

    And before you ask, no, I don’t work for SWA; none of my family works for SWA; I don’t know anybody that works for SWA. I just think its wrong to bash SWA for enforcing a fair, equitable, sensible, humane policy which benefits the vast majority of its customers.

    Not to mention I think if the policy were as unfair, or applied as unfairly as many here suggest we would be hearing about it more often, Mr. Smith’s large twitter following notwithstanding.

  405. #405 badgersdaughter
    February 16, 2010

    Right, right, you’re so busy being fair that you forgot how to be just.

    Yawn.

  406. #406 bernieg2
    February 16, 2010

    To those who left the titles to books about earlier periods in our history when childhood obesity was ridiculed, you merely prove the point: in those periods, there were fewer incidences of childhood obesity.

    I never said that fat kids are never ridiculed in school today. My contention is that there is too much acceptance, too much tolerance, too much political correctness compared to the days when I attended school (1950s).

    I would have appreciated a debate focused on how to solve the problem but instead was insulted. My suggestion too extreme for you? So what? But suppose it’s correct, would you still be opposed to it on grounds of political correctness? Because we should be more concerned with people’s feeling rather than on their health?

    I am personally opposed to abortion, but I don’t let me feelings get in the way of what is right which is that it’s a medical decision between a doctor and a woman, and none of my business.

    I do not take drugs and I would never hire anyone who takes drugs (except for medical reasons), but I am in favor of legalizing drugs because criminalizing drug use does not work. We have only filled our prisons and made drug use more rampant. I certainly would never let my feelings color my judgment of what is right or wrong.

    But it seems feelings are coloring the debate here more than logic and argument.

  407. #407 mwsletten
    February 16, 2010

    badgersdaughter, you are to subtle for me, I missed your point. Are you suggesting it is ‘just’ to bankrupt a company by forcing it to meet the needs of an undetermined, but most certainly small, percentage of its customers?

    Enlighten me if you’re not too bored…

  408. #408 les.gates
    February 16, 2010

    Eidolon@392

    It’s often not a matter of ‘discomfort’. It’s often a simple matter of not physically fitting in the seat. As I said, on short-haul I will put up with the discomfort if I can fit in the seat.

    Carlie@394

    Some fat people, Carlie, a minority, have medical conditions you describe – clearly they cannot do much about it. But ALL tall people, above say 6’5″, have problems and can do nothing about it. Every single one of them.

    I guess my main gripe is that airlines don’t even acknowledge tall people. There is no notice at booking: ‘please inform us 7 days before the flight if you are taller than 6’4″‘. I always call them before the flight and tell them anyway. I just want a proper way of dealing with us and planning for it, rather than cramming us in next to some poor sod who has to put up with our knees all over them. Maybe a system where we could provide a medical cert detailing our height – they could then allocate seats appropriately.

    This is my favourite line when the check-in staff aren’t playing ball:
    “Sure I can fit in your normal seats, but I’ll require an aisle seat as my legs will have to go in the aisle. When the cabin crew can’t get their trolley past – I’ll just let them know it was you that refused to put me in an exit row.”
    Funny how seats suddenly become available when they realise it’s a health and safety issue.

  409. #409 bernieg2
    February 16, 2010

    @374

    Making fun of adult fat people is already too late. If a parent hasn’t solved his kid’s fat problem by the time the child is 13, it’s hardly likely to happen later. link: http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/323/7324/1280

  410. #410 bernieg2
    February 16, 2010

    @368

    You wrote: “Let me help you. The shame wasn’t helping the kids lose any weight. It’s one of the factors and is suggested as one of the factors to be dealt with in order to help the kids be healthier.”

    Only the second sentence is correct. They never concluded that shame wasn’t helping kids lose weight.

    It should be noted that this as well as other studies in Sweden show that they are going through the same obesity cycle as we have in America but are merely ten to twenty years behind us. I have no doubt that as political correctness spread from America to Europe, that the fear of offending anyone has had the same diminution of peer pressure which has resulted in more obese children even in previously thin Sweden.

    Ironically, those who are most strident in their fear of offending anyone, are also the most intolerant and offensive against those with whom they disagree. I have been called an asshole, a douchebag, an idiot bigot, stupid and annoying, small-minded, a general prick, Judgity-Wudgity, elderly knuckle dragger, eternally benighted, Abou-ben-asshole, and more.

    Is this how one responds to differing opinions?

    My father lived under a regime where offering an opinion was itself an offense against the state. If you said you were hungry when the official position was that there was more than enough food for everyone, you’d receive an invitation to the local Communist Party office to answer charges of offending those in charge of food production.

    Although Political Correctness has existed for thousands of years (and responsible for every form of oppression), it was Communist Russia where political correctness was refined to a high art and eventually imported into this country.

    I suppose if I had written, “We should ridicule those with less intelligence,” I would have received as response that I am stupid, an idiot, a moron, to have made such a remark and that I was totally wrong. In other words, those who opposed my position would have taken my position as counter-argument, to prove I was right. Which is to say, emotional arguments prove nothing.

    It is sad to see how many here have resorted to ad hominem as a method of censorship and oppression.

  411. #411 Carlie
    February 16, 2010

    les.gates, I’m agreeing with you on the treatment of tall people. I’m just saying that some portion of fat people also can do nothing about it, and since giving all medical information to airlines so they can determine which fat people can’t do anything about it is a fucking stupid idea, the solution is to treat both tall and fat people well, not pick on them both.

    Interesting piece on this issue here.

    Although Political Correctness has existed for thousands of years (and responsible for every form of oppression), it was Communist Russia where political correctness was refined to a high art and eventually imported into this country.

    Is calling Communist a relative of Godwin? Here’s a good definition of political correctness: “Being politically correct is little more than not being an asshole.”
    (Paul Monette)

    More and more studies show that shame and humiliation and in general people being told they’re shit actually send them into cycles of depression that end up having them take worse care of themselves – go figure. And it’s not a new finding.

  412. #412 Ol'Greg
    February 16, 2010

    “It is sad to see how many here have resorted to ad hominem as a method of censorship and oppression.”

    Boo hoo people don’t support me emotionally abusing little kids!

    I hope you don’t have access to children though. I really do. You’re an abusive twat, and that’s not “ad hominem” my friend. That’s an insult. Learn the difference.

  413. #413 jhsteinberg
    February 16, 2010

    I’m going to stop reading somewhere around post #80, or I’ll never jump in.

    1) Wow, John Noble is a dick.

    2) I’m surprised at how many “Fat people need to eat less comments” abound at a site that is supposedly frequented by intelligent, biologically-literate people.

    Let’s see… Nature had a whole issue last year discussing studies showing the role of the stomach tissue & liver in controlling hunger. There have been studies showing obese people tend not to have the same lipid receptors in the stomach that indicate satiety, and eat until the stomach is distended and a secondary baroreceptor mechanism indicates satiety. There are studies showing that people with a history of dieting cannot sense satiety/hunger, and can easily go all day without eating (not hungry) and then sit down for a meal they know they ought to have and massively overeat (don’t know when they’re “full”). There was a study in Nature about two years ago showing they could easily control mouse weight by changing the relative amounts of two common gastric bacteria. There was an fMRI study published late this past summer showing that obese people, if they finish eating in less than 20-25 minutes, don’t show the same neurological signals of “I ate!” as other people do (their limbic brain doesn’t recognize that they consumed food). There was a huge study recently that obesity on a social scale follows normal epidemiologic patterns for infectious disease, and a supporting study in a clinical setting showed that people eat more or less depending on the eating habits of those they are dining with (I wonder if this plays into the mirror neuron phenomenon?). There was a study about a (decade?) back that even got a write-up in the Economist, showing that bulemics (that’s binge/vomit; they’re obese as often as not) show elevated sed rates and increased neural inflammation compared to various normal-weight and obese controls, suggesting the possibility of some autoimmune role.

    This is all without the anecdotes about countless obese people who hate themselves through and through for their perceived weakness, who think themselves more disgusting than even you would call them, and yet simply Can Not Help Themselves.

    There’s an awful lot of literature on obesity, and surprisingly none of it shows that people who are obese are just sloppy shits who eat too much and don’t care to look after themselves, “ugly inside and out.”

    One would think that since the medieval ages people would have moved on from the idea that illnesses that manifests as behavioral disorders are a matter of choice, but apparently that sort of fucktardedness is only one uncomfortable plane trip away.

  414. #414 jhsteinberg
    February 16, 2010

    Addendum to the list of data: there’s also the fact that the obese show the same dopamine reward pathway activation as alcoholics and druggies. Imagine telling an alcoholic he needs 3 beers a day to survive, but otherwise needs to stay sober. Is it any surprise that the obese -in the same situation as addicts, but incapable by biology of completely abstaining from the subject of their addiction- are generally incapable of escaping their problem?

    But I’m always amused by healthy people who look at the ill and expect them to shape up just because the healthy can. Reminds me of when my PI – when I told him I wouldn’t be pursuing my dream of medical school, because my two debilitating chronic illnesses wouldn’t allow me to physically survive the ordeal of residency – said, “Oh, if you really wanted it, you could do it.”

    No, dickface; amputees cannot run on their phantom legs just because they “really want to.”

  415. #415 RamziD
    February 16, 2010

    Wow, Carlie, I guess we’re gonna hear just about every excuse in the book from you. You should really stop speaking about a small minority of people as if they represent the norm. Some overweight people may be on antipsychotics or certain types of birth control which cause weight gain, but certainly not anywhere near the majority. Your emphysematous person that you talk about likely got that condition from years and years of smoking which, while hard to do, can be stopped on one’s own or with some help. (The other causes of emphysema are a very small minority of cases). Oh, and the OA; there’s a very high likelihood that it’s related to years of carrying large amounts of weight on joints that weren’t meant to carry it. Besides, just about anyone can ride a stationary bike for 60-90 minutes a day. So, go ahead, bring out all your zebras. I’d rather focus on the horses.

  416. #416 Ol'Greg
    February 16, 2010

    So, go ahead, bring out all your zebras. I’d rather focus on the horses.

    LOL. Sounds more like: “Don’t try and confuse things with facts! I already know what I believe. Let’s focus on the ways in which I’m right!”

    The obese are all outliers on the body spectrum, they’re already not in the norm. If they were in the norm they wouldn’t be obese.

  417. #417 Carlie
    February 16, 2010

    RamziD, that is such an ignorant post that it doesn’t even pass the bar of justifying a response, especially if you had bothered to read jhsteinberg’s post above yours.

    Besides, just about anyone can ride a stationary bike for 60-90 minutes a day.

    Ableist and classist privilege: you haz it.

  418. #418 kalyneadie
    February 16, 2010

    Carlie @400 “People paying more for the same transportation based on characteristics of their body isn’t equal access”

    EXACTLY!!

  419. #419 RamziD
    February 16, 2010

    I read his post. Most people (and I’ve tried to be careful to point out that I’m not including all) can achieve “normal” weights (or at least lose significant amounts of weight) with diet and exercise. All I hear from you are excuses. Hashimoto’s, depo-provera shots, and atypical antipsychotics are not the main reasons people become overweight.

  420. #420 badgersdaughter
    February 16, 2010

    So, Ramzi, what you’re really saying here is that anyone who can’t achieve a normal weight, for whatever reason, and however rare they are, is shit out of luck when it comes to being accommodated with equal access to public transportation on an airline, just because you think mist overweight people are fat, lazy fucks who could be normal if they just tried.

  421. #421 Steven Mading
    February 16, 2010

    Why is everyone in this thread talking about Kevin Smith’s volume and not his mass?

    Issues about fitting in the seat have nothing to do with weight (or mass) – they’re about volume.

    Why make the distinction, you ask?

    Because as the story was told, it was the pilot who made the decision to kick Kevin off the plane and not the flight attendants.

    Given who it was who made the decision, I’m inclined to think it was a matter of weight, meaning whether or not Kevin could fit comfortably and whether or not his volume was within the limits would be utterly irrelevant to the reasons behind making the decision.

    (Some people have been operating under the misconception that as long as a heavy passenger still takes up only one seat that this means they cost the airline the same as any other passenger does. This is quite false. if you weigh more than your neighbour, then the airline is paying for more fuel because of you than because of your neighbour. Also, passenger jets have safety limits not just about volume but also about weight. If you filled up half of a cargo airplane’s cabin with solid lead ingots and left the rest empty, then it would still be overweight even though it’s got plenty of room left. Filling a greater percentage of the passenger cabin with human meat (a heavy substance) than it was designed to assume would be present has a similar effect. Even when everyone fits in their seats, the plane’s weight restrictions were not designed under the assumption that every passenger seat would be filled to its full width with meat.

  422. #422 badgersdaughter
    February 16, 2010

    Steven Mading, I suggest you review posts 200 and 403.

  423. #423 Carlie
    February 16, 2010

    Hashimoto’s, depo-provera shots, and atypical antipsychotics are not the main reasons people become overweight.

    Nice way to ignore a bunch of reasons and pretend there are only three of them. But let’s see:
    Hypothyroidism: 3.7% of the population.

    Antipsychotics pretty damned high, (at least 300,000 children who are receiving Medicare alone), and 1.5/1000 in privately insured children under the age of five. That doesn’t even touch adolescent or adult rates of use.
    Depo was harder to find stats on.

    However, I’ve also been saying it doesn’t even fucking matter if it isn’t, because it causes a lot less hassle and a lot less privacy intrusion to simply treat them all the same way rather than to try and suss out every individual’s reason for being overweight first. But oh no, making policy simple and not being overly intrusive into people’s lives isn’t worth it, because then we can’t properly punish the bad fatties, and we can’t have that. The real problem is that their lives aren’t already full enough of hatred and bigoted treatment and censure and stigmatization.

    Why do I get the feeling that you’re the person who called fiona @123 a fat bint when s/he was out running? Your attitude certainly suggests that you think that’s an awesome way to behave.

  424. #424 RamziD
    February 16, 2010

    Badgersdaughter:

    No, what I’m saying is that some people should stop acting as if most overweight people don’t have any significant control over how much they weigh. Also, giving people who aren’t able to safely and comfortably fit into one airline seat the option to buy 2 airline seats is a pretty fair system the way our airline industry stands now.

    I happen to think it’s a good idea to put in a few rows with wider seats to accomodate more travelers (an opinion of many here). It’s not realistic to think that this can be achieved in any big way anytime soon, though (for financial and practical reasons). Maybe some new company (ie. the Jet Blues of the world) will be in a better shape to start a pilot program of having the different width rows, but don’t expect it from any of the more established airlines anytime soon.

  425. #425 Carlie
    February 16, 2010

    No, what I’m saying is that some people should stop acting as if most overweight people don’t have any significant control over how much they weigh.

    Why? What’s it to you? Why do you care? Do you harass people who eat anything fatty because it affects their cholesterol? Do you heckle people who drink alcohol because it’s bad for their livers? Do you despise and make fun of snowboarders because they might fall and get hurt? What the hell is it to you whether fat people exist?

  426. #426 RamziD
    February 16, 2010

    Pretty funny. I never said I hated fat people. In fact, the only strong sentiments I ever directed were at you, and that’s because you’d rather make excuses than have a serious discussion on the epidemic (yes, I said it!) of obesity. It matters to me insomuch as this is a debate which you are largely fueling.

  427. #427 Dagobert
    February 16, 2010

    Their policy is not consistent. I’ve seen stories where a person (who could fit into the seat with armrests down) was required to buy a second seat on the second leg of journey after being seated on the first leg. They also won’t allow two fat people to buy one extra seat to share – where is the point in that? I won’t fly them even though I fit into a seat, because who knows what they will do half-way into your trip if you are overweight. Also, one of the people suing them claims that larger men were allowed to board while she was asked to buy a second seat. I fly a lot for work and play, but it won’t be with them. If they really care about this, why don’t they develop a non-arbitrary policy and follow it.

  428. #428 badgersdaughter
    February 16, 2010

    …rather make excuses than have a serious discussion on the epidemic (yes, I said it!) of obesity.

    Oh, so that’s your problem. You think this is a discussion on the epidemic of obesity, presumably its causes and treatment.

    That’s not what it is. It’s a discussion about a man who was discriminated against, harassed, and inconvenienced despite being in word-for-word conformance with the stated policy of the company doing the harassing. It’s a discussion, further, about the ethics of doing the harassing to him or to others similarly situated. Stay on task, kthxbai.

  429. #429 Carlie
    February 16, 2010

    that’s because you’d rather make excuses

    That implies that there’s something that needs excusing. Fat people aren’t problems that need to be excused for existing.

    than have a serious discussion on the epidemic (yes, I said it!) of obesity.

    “Yes, I said it”? What are you, 12? Ooo, like it’s so edgy to say “epidemic of obesity”, ’cause it’s not like that phrase is so common that it gives you a million and a half hits on Google or anything. If you want to argue health care costs, then I hope you’re also on a crusade against alcohol, any food that contains cholesterol, all jobs that require sedentary time, and all sports that can cause ER visits. But by this point you’ve moved the goalposts so far that it’s absurd, and I’ve only stuck around this long because of severe SIWOTI syndrome and, more importantly, because it’s people like you who make fat people’s lives hell regardless of whether they’re trying to fly or not.

  430. #430 Kel, OM
    February 16, 2010

    I suppose the solution for drug addicts is for them to just give up the drugs. Simple, right? Gambling addicts too just need to stop gambling. Fattys just need to stop eating junk food and exercise more.

    So easy to solve all these problems, I should write a book “put down the mars bar and go for a jog you morbidly obese fuck!”

  431. #431 Dianne
    February 16, 2010

    But ALL tall people, above say 6’5″, have problems and can do nothing about it. Every single one of them.

    Sure you can do something about it: Just find a surgeon willing to lop off your feet or saw out some femur length or take out a disc or two. If you haven’t done that it’s because you’re lazy and unmotivated and just out to inconvenience other fliers by flaunting your excess height all over the place like that. (/snark, in case it wasn’t obvious.)

  432. #432 RamziD
    February 16, 2010

    Carlie, here’s an idea. Stop fucking putting words in my mouth. You’re acting like an irrational, obnoxious, and petulant child.

    I’m sorry that people can make your life so miserable just by saying that you have the power to lose weight. Very touchy, aren’t you?

  433. #433 RamziD
    February 16, 2010

    Badgersdaughter, why don’t you try reading the other 400+ posts? Most of them are about obesity in general, not just about Kevin Smith. So, yes, this is largely a debate about obesity.

  434. #434 speedweasel
    February 16, 2010

    I’m quoting Kel a lot today…

    I suppose the solution for drug addicts is for them to just give up the drugs. Simple, right? Gambling addicts too just need to stop gambling. Fattys just need to stop eating junk food and exercise more.

    This *is* true in a zen koan sort of way. But in another, more practical way, its pretty useless advice.

    That said, once I realised that in order to give up smoking I only needed to avoid smoking another cigarette, it was easy. I suppose the simplicity of it just resonated with me ;)

  435. #435 Carlie
    February 16, 2010

    Yawn, grade-school taunts. Your social age appears to be closer to 8 than 12.

    Try actually reading the thread. I’ve made the points I want to make and provided support for them. Your post at #416 is pretty crystal clear as to your opinion, you haven’t shown any support for it at all, and you haven’t addressed any counter-evidence that is already lying right out here in the thread. In the meantime, have fun in your world where everyone can afford a stationary bike at home, has 60-90 free minutes a day to use it, and nobody has any physical problems that would make it too painful to do so.

  436. #436 Josh, Official SpokesGay
    February 16, 2010

    Yawn, grade-school taunts. Your social age appears to be closer to 8 than 12.

    Carlie honey, don’t waste your time. All you’ll find here is aggravation and serial assholism. Come over to my house – I just made fresh fried chicken tenders with buttermilk batter, and the wine’s flowing freely.

  437. #437 Kel, OM
    February 16, 2010

    This *is* true in a zen koan sort of way. But in another, more practical way, its pretty useless advice.

    Exactly. If I believed in true free will (which I will define as being able to make choice truly independant of anything beyond one’s own desire) maybe I’d take this path. But this is getting dangerously close to what Dan Dennett calls a deepity, and I don’t actually believe that such free will actually exists (even if at times it sure does feel like it).

    I have those thoughts along the lines of “how could they do that to themselves?” or when hearing about those people who will throw away perfectly good fruit while eating a chocolate bar instead, I do have that notion that they are in control and could change if they wanted to.

    If it were really that easy, then diet companies would have been a short term necessity. The word itself wouldn’t need to be put on every second product. If it really were that simple, then we should be seeing a decrease in the rates of obesity – but we aren’t. So obviously it’s not that simple.

    And because it ain’t that simple, it to me seems to callous to take that approach pretending that it is so simple to put down the fork. The approach is not working, why not find out how society-wide approaches can work and then go from there? I’m going to guess that in most cases it is dietary and stemming from lack of physical fitness, but the solution is so simple that it becomes acceptable to deride those who are obese as making a pure lifestyle choice.

    That said, once I realised that in order to give up smoking I only needed to avoid smoking another cigarette, it was easy. I suppose the simplicity of it just resonated with me ;)

    I had something similar with milk products. I used to eat cheese every single day. Then the doctor told me to give up milk products, and BAM! just like that I did. Didn’t touch them for months. Kind of broke a bit in recent times, but still I found that I can do things like that at least with some degree of resolve. Keeping it up long term however is tough.

  438. #438 Carlie
    February 16, 2010

    Josh, I’m totally there. I’ll bring cheesecake. :)

  439. #439 martha
    February 16, 2010

    Given that being overweight is proving to be a nearly incurable condition all you anti fatties can STFU. People who lose weight are almost inevitably going to gain it back.

    And those who say schools are too easy and tolerant, let me tell you about going to school in the 60s. I was a plump, awkward and unattractive child. I was teased all the time. I was deeply depressed throughout junior high and high school. What I had going for me was that I was smart. So to some extent I could rationalize away the teasing and simply convince myself that I was better than my tormentors. It horrifies me to say that deep down inside I understand those bullied children who murder their classmates.

    College saved my life. I became confident and successful. I became a runner so for a number of years I was within normal weight range. Leading people to success rather than shame is what helps. It just is harder to help people be successful than it is to shame them for their failures.

  440. #440 Josh, Official SpokesGay
    February 16, 2010

    I’ll bring cheesecake.

    Oh, do. And a bottle of something. I’m not playing around with this gluttony shit:)

  441. #441 Antiochus Epiphanes
    February 16, 2010

    RamziD: I see that you were offered the position. In defeat, I offer you my congratulations.

  442. #442 Ol'Greg
    February 16, 2010

    Quality of life matters too. To those who think it’s just a bit of “diet and exercise” it’s not.

    What my posts about my anorexic lifestyle were meant to convey was the fact that a “normal” trying to achieve this ideal means reduced capacity to function in life. It means not being there for relationships, for meetings, for friends because it would interfere with the objective.

    You see, love, life, children, work, happiness… the things some people might consider important… these things have to take a back seat.

    This is the kind of half existance many “normals” are expecting fat people to live.

    I see this as socially destructive. To live with the kind of psychotic commitment I do, for instance, you would have to say: “Well I never intend to breed”

    I don’t think some people here understand the level of intense commitment it takes for some obese people (and yes I’m talking about the ones with fully functional joints, and mobile legs, and no serious debilitating diseases) to maintain the ideal weights.

    It is the kind of commitment some people put into becoming gymnasts or dancers. It is real and absorbing. 10 or so hours per week of strenuous work? Meticulous calorie counting? Dedication… because this will not be accomplished in a month or two.

    To trivialize it is an ignorant insult.

    To pretend it comes from some singlar source is equally ignorant.

  443. #443 mwsletten
    February 16, 2010

    kalyneadie said: ‘Carlie @400 “People paying more for the same transportation based on characteristics of their body isn’t equal access”

    EXACTLY!!’

    That argument would make sense if the space available were infinite. Since aircraft are of a finite size the number of seats available will always be a factor.

    In a cut-throat industry where every dime counts an airline that specializes in discount fares must maximize the number of seats on the aircraft to be profitable. That means it will always come back to the cost per seat per mile. Is it reasonable for an airline to give up a fare because a particular passenger won’t fit in a space adequate for the vast majority of its customers?

    Carlie, do you think SWA’s policy of recommending the purchase of two seats with a promise to refund the cost of one if the flight isn’t oversold is the most fair and equitable way to handle the current situation? If not, how would you do so without adding to SWA’s or its customers’ costs?

    Where do we draw the line? At what point does a person become too big for us to reasonably expect an airline to accommodate him/her?

    I keep coming back to the obvious where Mr. Smith is concerned: there are any number of airlines that cater to the comfort crowd, airlines that advertise larger seats and more space. Mr. Smith didn’t choose one of those airlines because he likes SWA’s cheap fares. In the end, he got what he paid for.

  444. #444 BrainUser
    February 17, 2010

    Southwest Airlines essentially sells space and transportation. If you require more than one space then it seems entirely fair that you pay for two (as he did) and, if there are not two spaces available, then you don’t go at that time (which is what southwest did).

    It is NOT fair for a person who can fit within their seat to endure a neighbor who cannot. I’m incredibly thankful for any airline with the balls to respect their other patrons and deal with this difficult issue.

    It’s almost like a person who requires more food while eating out and nibbling from their neighbor’s plate at the next table over. Would that seem fair? Of course not. If a person requires two meals at a restaurant, they pay for two meals.

    Airlines are not buffets.

    Thank you Southwest!

  445. #445 scooterKPFT
    February 17, 2010

    I’ve been skinny all my life, gained a little weight after fifty, then lost it due to health issues, so I’m under 165 at 5’10″, but of all the obnoxious characteristics of brain fucking dead fucking dumbass Americans that make me want to just get out a fucking machine gun and get fucking busy, being on an airplane with a large person, is not one of them.

    I do have a list of about 1000 other things that make the idea of becoming the next Pol Pot seem reasonable, but there’s a bandwidth shortage here.

  446. #446 Cruithne
    February 17, 2010

    If anyone takes the time to listen to Smith’s podcast he clearly explains that he wasn’t in breach of any regulations, he wasn’t putting anyone at risk, and the airline themselves apologised and admitted that he shouldn’t have been taken off the flight.

    Still people continue to push the lie over and over again.

  447. #447 mwsletten
    February 17, 2010

    Cruithne, SWA posted its version of the incident on its Blog (link in PZ story above) which disputes what you posted about Mr. Smith’s version. If what you posted is accurate, it comes down to his word against SWA’s word.

    According to other posters here, Mr. Smith believes SWA takes advantage of large people to make a profit at their expense, treats them rudely and intentionally exposes them to public ridicule and humiliation.

    This from a company that has one of the best customer service reputations in the business.

    And still people continue to push the lie over and over again.

    Further, as I’ve posted previously, the final arbiter of SWA’s seating policy is the pilot in command of the aircraft — which only makes sense since (s)he is solely responsible for the safety of the aircraft, crew, cargo and passengers, including Mr. Smith. Mr. Smith’s claim that he was not in breach of regulation and that he fit safely in his seat is irrelevant, as he lacks the appropriate qualification and authority to make the determination.

    Yes, SWA publicly apologized to Mr. Smith for his bad travel experience — just as any good commercial company dependent customers for its livelihood would do. This is not an admission it did anything wrong, just damage control. Nowhere in its blog post did SWA say it should not have taken Mr. Smith off the jet. Indeed, the blog entry clearly says, ‘[W]e made a judgment call that Mr. Smith needed more than one seat to complete his flight. Our Employees explained why the decision was made, accommodated Mr. Smith on a later flight, and issued him a $100 Southwest travel voucher for his inconvenience.’

    Sounds like SWA made every effort to meet Mr. Smith’s needs travel needs within the limitations of its seating policy.

  448. #448 Cruithne
    February 17, 2010

    Mr Smith has publicly stated that an airline employee (who he named) apologised and told him he wasn’t in breach of any regulations and that he shouldn’t have been taken off the flight.

    SWA are aware of this claim and have not denied it.

    do you think Smith made that up and if he did, surely SWA would have taken the opportunity to say so?

    Occams razor.

  449. #449 Cruithne
    February 17, 2010

    As for SWA’s reputation, it doesn’t surprise me that most people who have been publicly shamed for being fat wouldn’t make a fuss about it. Smith explains that on the very next flight another woman was so shamed, for absolutely no reason, since there was plenty of room on the flight, and yet she was taken aside and humiliated for the crime of being a fat woman.

    If it wasn’t for the fact that Smith is privileged enough to have a platform from which he can complain about this issue, I dare say the so called good reputation of SWA would still be untarnished.

  450. #450 mwsletten
    February 17, 2010

    Cruithne, since you like to speculate how about this: SWA informs its larger customers via its website about a fair, humane and discrete way to ensure they get a seat while avoiding public discussions about their size.

    The vast majority of large people who fly with SWA follow the procedure and are very happy with their experience and the good reputation of SWA goes untarnished for nearly a quarter century until one person tries to cheat, is forced to follow the known procedure, gets burned and whines to the world via twitter.

    Regarding Mr. Smith’s account of the woman who was taken aside — if she was taken aside for a private conversation how does Mr. Smith know what was discussed? Regardless, it sounds to me as if SWA took her aside to be discreet; if she told Mr. Smith (or anyone else) that SWA hassled her about her size then she made the issue public. If she was humiliated then she has no one to blame but herself.

  451. #451 scooterKPFT
    February 17, 2010

    #448
    reason number 42
    see #446

  452. #452 Cruithne
    February 17, 2010

    Again, you don’t know all the facts.

    Mr Smith followed all SWA’s procedures to the letter, he was still publicly humiliated. Can you enlighten us as to which particular regulations he was in breach off?
    The woman in question has now come forward and given her side of the story. She was taken off the plane and whilst a woman employee humiliated her and told her she ought to have bought two seats, two male employees present stood there and snickered as she was publicly humiliated.

    So that’s both mr Smith and the woman who give the exact same accounts of what happened, and they were both more able to be in a position to know than anyone issuing statements on behalf of SWA.

    So, who is to be believed here?

    Is the woman making up the story of being publicly humiliated and reduced to tears?

  453. #453 mwsletten
    February 17, 2010

    Cruithne, you missed my point — neither you nor I were there, we only have second-hand accounts and history to go by. There are many different ways to ‘interpret’ second-hand accounts, and nearly all of them resolve to incorrect conclusions. It is my experience that second-hand accounts are almost always wildly skewed by a desire on the part of those providing them to color their behavior in the best light, and by my own preconceptions.

    It becomes that much more difficult when you have differing accounts.

    Often, though, I’ve found that an effective way to cut through the bullshit is to look for segments of differing accounts that agree with one another. Let’s try that.

    Some here believe SWA acted inappropriately in asking Mr. Smith to get off a flight he had attempted to board in a stand-by status.

    Both SWA and Mr. Smith acknowledge Mr. Smith was asked to deplane because the pilot in command made a safety-related determination about Mr. Smith’s ability to fit the single seat available on the flight for which Mr. Smith attempted to board as a stand-by passenger. Mr. Smith says he followed all of SWA’s rules by purchasing two tickets, but that fact was no longer relevant as he was attempting to board a flight that he had NOT purchased two tickets for.

    So both Mr. Smith’s and SWA’s accounts agree he was not allowed to fly on the flight because he could not safely fit in a single seat as determined by the sole person with authority to make the determination, the pilot in command. That, BTW, was the regulation that would have been violated had Mr. Smith been allowed to fly. That Mr. Smith disagreed with the pilot in command about his ability to fit safely in a single seat is not relevant because Mr. Smith is neither qualified nor authorized to make that determination.

    That Mr. Smith was ‘publicly humiliated’ because of the incident is also not relevant to the question of whether SWA acted appropriately. Mr. Smith was well aware of the seating requirements as evidenced by the fact he purchased two tickets for his original flight. That means he knew or suspected he could not fit a single seat. When he then still attempted to board a flight with only a single seat available HE created the situation that resulted in his humiliation. There is no way to discreetly ‘test fit’ someone on a packed aircraft. Mr. Smith knew that before he attempted to board.

    From my perspective, Mr. Smith strikes me as someone with an agenda.

    If the woman you speak of gave her perspective of the incident, I haven’t read about it. Even if I did, however, I would have to remember I’m reading another individual’s account of an incident I didn’t witness.

    If I’ve learned nothing on the road to becoming a skeptic, I’ve learned there is great truth in the old adage, ‘Believe nothing of what you hear, and only half of what you see.’

    What I do know is SWA has a long and storied history of success in an extremely difficult industry; that its success is based partly on a record of stellar customer service; that it published on its website and other literature readily available to its customers a seating policy designed specifically to help those who can’t fit in a single seat avoid public humiliation.

    Mr. Smith was aware of his size, the policy and the possible consequences of trying to game the system.

    So, as always, the question comes down to who do you believe?